An Egyptian man accused of hijacking a passenger plane with a fake suicide belt and diverting it to Cyprus was remanded for eight days by a Greek Cypriot court on Wednesday.
The suspect identified by Greek Cypriot and Egyptian authorities as Seif Eldin Mustafa, 59, surrendered after diverting an EgyptAir Alexandria-Cairo flight to Larnaca, southern Cyprus on Tuesday with 81 people, including 21 foreigners and 15 crew on board.
He was held in custody on suspicion of hijacking, abduction, threatening violence, terrorism-related offences and two counts related to possession of explosives.
Investigating officer Andreas Lambrianou told the court that “the suspect asked all passengers and crew to hand in their passports, then gave two messages to a member of the crew, asking that the pilot be informed that he was a hijacker and wanted to land at an airport in Turkey, Greece or Cyprus, but preferably Cyprus."
The passengers and crew were freed unharmed after a six-hour standoff.
Mustafa dropped an envelope on the runway in Larnaca addressed to his ex-wife, a citizen living under the Greek Cypriot administration, in which he wrote that he demanded the release of 63 female prisoners held in Egypt.
He told Greek Cypriot police that he wanted to see his wife and children after 24 years and that “the Egyptian government doesn’t allow it”, adding “what should one do?”