Egypt riot siblings not charged
Published 20/08/2013 | 16:17
Four Irish siblings detained by Egyptian authorities amid the outbreak of violence have not been charged with any offences, Ireland's junior foreign minister said.
A diplomat from the Irish embassy in Cairo has secured access to see three young women and their teenage brother for the first time since they were jailed.
Sisters Omaima Halawa, 20, Fatima, 22, and Somaia, 27, and their 17-year-old brother Ibrihim were detained in Tora prison after being caught up in the storming of the city's Al Fateh mosque by security forces on Saturday.
Joe Costello, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, said an Irish official has met with the four face-to-face and that they were well and in good spirits.
"The embassy has managed to visit them in detention, and they are all safe and well," he said,
"No charges have been preferred at this time and naturally enough we are delighted to have had a chance to meet with them, it was the first time there has been any access since they were detained."
Mr Costello said all four are being kept together in the prison.
Ibrihim is understood to have suffered a minor injury to his hand which medical staff have been asked to treat.
Mr Costello said diplomats remain in contact with Dublin but it was still unclear whether any legal proceedings would be taken against the siblings.
"Our primary concern has always been for the welfare of the four siblings and I'm glad that we've managed to establish access to them," he said.
"While this information will come as a relief to their family, obviously they are still in detention, and unfortunately the situation in relation to legal proceedings against them is unclear at present."
Dozens of protesters gathered again today, for the second day in a row, at the Egyptian embassy in Dublin demanding the Halawas' immediate release.
The siblings all hold Irish passports, according to their family, who moved to Ireland 18 years ago.
They had travelled to Egypt earlier this summer for a holiday and were joined by their mother a fortnight ago.
Teenager Ibrihim completed his Leaving Certificate before the summer.
The family say they were forced to seek sanctuary in the Al Fateh mosque on Friday after violent clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and the security forces killed around 80 people.
More than 800 people have died in the carnage that has followed a military crackdown over the past week.