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Cyprus court rejects testimony in Egyptian hijacker case


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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- A Cyprus court on Thursday refused to hear testimony from a Cambridge University professor in defense of an Egyptian hijacker fighting an extradition request by his country over fears that he could be tortured or killed.

Emile George Howard Joffe's testimony was inadmissible because his expertise wasn't specific to Egypt's current domestic situation and his academic research pertained to regional foreign relations in general, Judge Dona Constantinou ruled.

State attorney Eleni Loizidou argued that a report Joffe prepared in which he concludes that extraditing admitted hijacker Seif Eddin Mustafa would put him at risk of torture or death was biased because of information he received from the defense team.

Joffe said he has submitted dozens of reports on asylum cases involving Egyptians for British courts.

Mustafa claims he hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in March and diverted it to Cyprus to underscore the wrongs done by Egypt's military-backed government and that he meant no harm to anyone. The hijack ended peacefully after all 72 passengers and crew were released and Mustafa arrested.

Mustafa also claims to have seen an Italian doctoral student in an Egyptian prison before he was found dead on a Cairo road.

The judge adjourned proceedings until next month to give defense lawyer Robertos Brahimis time to find another expert.

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