Seif Eldin Mustafa, the Egyptian man accused of hijacking and forcing an EgyptAir plane to land in Cyprus on March 29 using a fake suicide belt, has appeared in court in Cyprus.
The Larnaca court ordered an eight-day detention for Seif Eldin Mustafa.
Possible charges include air piracy, kidnapping and threatening behavior.
Seif Eldin Mustafa did not speak, but gave a victory sign as he was driven away by police. Cypriot authorities have described him as “psychologically unstable”, saying the incident was not terrorism-related.
EgyptAir flight MS181 was carrying 56 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo, along with six crew and a security official, when it was diverted to Cyprus.
During a stand-off lasting more than six hours, almost all passengers and crew were freed unharmed as authorities negotiated with Seif Eldin Mustafa.
One person, apparently a crew member, climbed out of a cockpit window, minutes before the suspect walked calmly out of the plane to surrender.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said Seif Eldin Mustafa had initially asked to speak with his Cypriot ex-wife, who was brought to the airport by police, before making a series of “incoherent” demands.
Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades had responded to a reporter’s question about whether the hijacker was motivated by romance, by laughing and saying: “Always there is a woman involved.”
Egyptian authorities said security measures had been “fully implemented” before the flight.
CCTV footage released by the interior ministry shows Seif Eldin Mustafa being frisked at two security checks and passing a slim bag through X-ray machines at Alexandria’s Borg El Arab airport.
Egypt has taken steps to improve airport security after Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 was blown up over Sinai in October 2015.
They include an extra $1 billion a year and a deal with British consultancy Control Risks to review procedures at Cairo, Sharm El-Sheikh and Marsa Alam airports.
The EgyptAir hijacker has been arrested in Cyprus hours after he diverted the domestic Egyptian flight to Larnaca airport and all hostages were released.
EgyptAir Flight MS181 was taken over by a passenger claiming to be wearing a suicide explosive belt.
Airline officials later said they had been told by Cypriot authorities that the belt was fake.
The hijacker’s motives remain unclear but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasides said the incident was not terrorism-related.
No-one was injured in the hijacking, Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodulides tweeted.
After a morning of tension, the hijacker was seen walking down aircraft steps at Larnaca airport with his hands raised.
Some reports said the Egyptian man – named by Cypriot officials as Seif Eldin Mustafa – wanted to talk to his estranged Cypriot wife who lives on the Mediterranean island, while others said he was seeking the release of female prisoners in Egypt.
The hijacker’s surrender came shortly after several people were seen fleeing the aircraft. One – apparently a crew member – escaped by climbing out of the aircraft’s cockpit window.
In a tweet, the Cypriot foreign ministry confirmed the end of the crisis: “It’s over. The hijacker arrested.”
Throughout the morning, passengers had been seen leaving the aircraft after appearing to have been released.
Local media reports said the hijacker had handed over a four-page letter in Arabic after the plane landed at Larnaca in the morning, and that later a woman thought to be his wife had arrived at the airport.
Earlier, President Nicos Anastasiades had responded to a reporter’s question about whether the hijacker was motivated by romance, by laughing and saying: “Always there is a woman involved.”
EgyptAir said the Airbus A320 was carrying 56 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo, along with six crew members and a security official. It had initially said 81 passengers were on board.
A statement from Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said 26 foreign passengers were on board, including eight Americans, four Dutch citizens, four Britons, two Greeks, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian and a Syrian.
Larnaca airport, on the south coast of Cyprus, has been closed and scheduled flights diverted elsewhere.
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