Today, 30/09/16, the Nicosia District Court decided to approve the application of the Egyptian regime for extraditing of Mr Saif Mουstafa (ΕΜ)[i]. Unfortunately, the decision confirms the concerns that KISA has publicly expressed[ii] that today’s court hearing would result in announcing a political decision already decided beforehand. The court’s stance all throughout the procedures clearly reveals that it was not a fair trial and denotes that the Republic of Cyprus and its institutions are ready to sell out human rights for economic and political expediency.
In essence, the court reached today’s decision because it judged all testimonies for Mr EM’s extradition as reliable, while at the same time it judged as unreliable the testimonies that would lead any impartial person to the self-evident conclusion: that is, in view of the present situation of the violation of human rights in Egypt[iii], the extradition of this person will most certainly lead to persecution, torture and inhuman treatment.
In particular, the court’s decision was based on the following paradoxical arguments:
- Mr ΕΜ is unreliable because he had a travelling document of 2011 that he could use to leave the country. As per the court decision, the fact that he did not leave the country and chose to remain and resist renders his testimony, that he had been subjected or run the risk of persecution, unreliable. On the basis of this logic, all and everybody who struggled against the Greek Junta during the seven-year period of 1967-1974 and were tortured or murdered by the dictatorial regime, cannot be considered to be resistance fighters as they did not choose to be self-exiled.
- The court also doubted the authenticity of his motive to ask, on arriving at Larnaca, for the release of 63 women arrested and illegally detained by the Egyptian authorities. The rational of the court is based on the fact that during the hearing procedure ‘he admitted that he did not know them personally’ and, therefore, his claim, that he proceeded to the act for which he is accused in order to sensitise world public opinion about the violations of human rights in Egypt, is not admissible. It is evident that the court is of the opinion that those fighting against Apartheid in South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela should know him personally if they were to be convincing as to their motives.
- The court claimed that it was a weakness of the defence to present an independent expert to testify on the situation of human rights in Egypt. The paradox in this case is that the court did everything possible to avoid the presentation before it of such an independent testimony. On 18 August 2016, rejected Dr Emile Joffe, as independent expert[iv], despite his remarkable academic and research work in the field [v] and despite the fact that Dr Joffe has appeared before British courts in a plethora of similar cases as an expert on North Africa and the Middle East.
In addition, the court’s unwillingness to hear an independent expert testimony is also indicated by the fact that, on 21.09.2016, it rejected a request by Mr ΕΜ’s lawyer for such a testimony on the internal situation in Egypt to be presented by a representative of the UNHCR.
In view of all the above, KISA disagrees with the decision of the court. We believe that the decision has not been taken on the basis of independent and impartial evaluation of the facts of the case and the situation of human rights in Egypt. Further, we intend to proceed to all judicial measures in Cyprus and abroad for the protection of Mr EM’s rights, as his extradition to Egypt puts him in real danger of torture, inhuman and humiliating treatment.
We also call on the Minister of Justice and Public Order not to authorise Mr EM’s extradition to Egypt, in respect of Cyprus’s international and European obligations for the protection of human rights.