Cypriot ex-wife says EgyptAir hijacker was 'abusive, dangerous'

Cypriot ex-wife says EgyptAir hijacker was 'abusive, dangerous'
The ex-wife of an Egyptian man who hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight and forced it land in Cyprus has said her former husband is an "extremely dangerous man".
4 min read
01 April, 2016
Cyprus police said Mustafa's criminal record on the island stretched back to 1988 [Getty]
The Cypriot ex-wife of an Egyptian accused of hijacking a plane in a bid to see her has said their marriage was a "living hell" and he had shown no interest in her or their children since they separated.

Marina Paraschou told Cypriot media that she had met Seif al-Din Mostafa on the island when she was just 18 and he was 26, and that their five years of marriage were a "black period" of her life.

"Most of the media painted a picture of romance in which a man was trying to reach out to his estranged wife," Paraschou said in an interview published on Thursday, "But that couldn't be further from the truth and they would have a different opinion if they knew what he was really like. It was a black five years."

Paraschou said that her ex-husband, now in custody as police weigh charges, had was an "extremely dangerous man" who had been violent and abusive towards her and their three children, had refused to work and had taken drugs.

"This man never cared for his children for one minute, either when he lived here or when he went away," Paraschou is quoted as saying. "He only offered pain, misery and terror. And even now when he's in police custody, my children and I are afraid."

The couple during happier times [Philenews]

Paraschou was brought to Larnaca airport by police during the six-hour standoff that culminated in her ex-husband's surrender.

But she said that was solely to confirm his identity and not to meet the demand he had made in a written note passed to authorities from the plane.

Mostafa, 58, is accused of using a fake suicide belt to force the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight to divert to Cyprus, where he was remanded in custody on Wednesday for eight days.

He faces possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping, reckless and threatening behaviour, and breaches of the anti-terror law.

Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou told the court that after his arrest, the suspect had told officers he acted out of desperation to see his ex-wife and children.

"What's someone supposed to do when he hasn't seen his wife and children in 24 years and the Egyptian government won't let you?" Lambrianou quoted him as saying.

But Paraschou alleged that after they split up in 1990, Mostafa had been indifferent to the point of callousness towards her and their three children, one of whom died in an accident after their divorce.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, Mustafa's 57-year old sister gave a different account, saying his brother's life was focused on how to get to see his children and that his only offences were related to forging documents so he could travel to see them.

"For 24 years, my brother wasted his life in prison and attempts to travel and see his children," Fekriya Mustafa said.

She said he phoned her from the plane twice and told her that he had hijacked the aircraft — but she believed he was joking until she saw his picture on the news.

She last saw him a week ago but had no clue what he would do. "I had no idea this will happen," she said. "He was depressed because of the children. He has no work, no life, nothing."

The sister said he had no violent past but that he had beaten his children to "discipline them." She made no mention of him beating up his wife.

Egyptian authorities had repeatedly arrested Mustafa for forging personal documents. He escaped from prison in a massive jailbreak during the 2011 uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak. He later returned to prison to serve the rest of his term and he was last released in 2015.

Cyprus police said Mustafa's criminal record on the island stretched back to 1988, when he was convicted on six counts of forging passports and handed a suspended sentence. He was later deported to Egypt following domestic violence charges by Paraschou.

He re-entered Cyprus on an assumed Qatari identity, but was tracked down and again deported to Egypt in 1990.