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Cyprus agrees to extradite EgyptAir hijacker

Cypriot authorities have agreed to extradite an Egyptian man accused of hijacking a plane and diverting it to the Mediterranean island. Seif Eddin Mustafa claimed he had been desperate to see his estranged wife.

Cypriot government officials said that a legal process was underway to send 58-year-old Mustafa back to Egypt.

"Instructions were given for the relevant procedures to begin," a government official told the AFP news agency. It is expected that the extradition will be fast-tracked, and that it will last several weeks.

Egypt's state prosecutor had asked for Mustafa to be handed over under the terms of a 1996 extradition treaty between the two countries.

Mustafa is accused of using a fake suicide belt to commandeer a March 29 EgyptAir flight between Cairo and Alexandria, forcing it to land at Cyprus's Larnaca airport. Mustafa, who authorities have described as psychologically unstable, said he had acted out of desperation to see his estranged Cypriot ex-wife and children.

Most of the 55 passengers were quickly released after the Airbus A320 landed, but

several who remained

only managed to flee minutes before the end of a six-hour standoff.

Facing several charges

Watch video 00:53

Passengers leave hijacked EgyptAir plane

He also delivered a letter in rambling Arabic, containing demands to meet with a European Union representative and for women prisoners in Egypt to be released.

Cypriot prosecutors say Mustafa faces possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping, reckless and threatening behavior and breaking anti-terror laws.

Mustafa's ex-wife has described her marriage to him as a "black five years." Marina Paraschou claims her ex-husband had been violent and abusive towards both her and their three children.

The incident renewed

concerns about security at Egyptian airports,

months after a Russian passenger plane was downed while flying over the Sinai Peninsula in a bombing that was claimed by the "Islamic State" militant group.

rc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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