NICOSIA — Cyprus said on Wednesday that it had approved a request from Cairo to extradite the man accused of hijacking an EgyptAir plane and diverting it to the Mediterranean island.
Egyptian Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58, is accused of using a fake suicide belt to seize the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight on March 29 and force it to land in Cyprus.
Cypriot government officials said that a legal process would now begin to send home the 58-year-old, who is in police custody on the island.
"Instructions were given for the relevant procedures to begin," a government official said.
Nicosia is expected to try to fast-track the extradition process which could take several weeks.
The suspect is expected to remain in custody until his extradition papers are ready.
The Egyptian state prosecutor’s office had asked for him to be handed over under a 1996 bilateral extradition treaty.
Mostafa -- described by authorities as psychologically unstable -- has said he acted out of desperation to see his Cypriot ex-wife and children.
Cypriot prosecutors said last week he faced possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping, reckless and threatening behaviour, and breaches of the anti-terror law.
According to police, Mostafa has given a voluntary statement admitting to the hijacking.
His ex-wife has been quoted by Cypriot media as describing their five years of marriage as a "black period" of her life.
The hijacking ended peacefully with Mostafa’s arrest.
Most of the 55 passengers were quickly released after the plane landed, but some escaped only minutes before the six-hour standoff finished. — AFP