Thursday 27 October 2016

Egyptians 'wrong to criticise Irish calls for Halawa's release'

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

The family of jailed Irishman Ibrahim Halawa have said the Egyptian parliament was wrong to allege that the Irish Government was "interfering" by seeking his release.

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Somaia Halawa, a sister of the imprisoned Dubliner, said that the Irish Government was compliant with a special provision of Egyptian law which allows the Irish authorities to legally seek his release.

Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested along with his three sisters in a mosque near Cairo's Ramses Square in 2013 as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of their elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

The family insisted they were taking refuge from the protests. His sisters were later released but Mr Halawa, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been in custody ever since, facing a mass trial along with almost 500 other alleged dissenters.

Now 20, he is facing the death penalty if found guilty.

The Egyptian parliament recently rejected calls from the Irish Government to release him and accused Ireland of "unacceptable interference".

The speaker of the Egyptian parliament read a statement saying Mr Halawa was charged with assaulting police, disrupting roads and endangering the safety of citizens during a protest in Cairo in 2013.

Solicitors for Mr Halawa insisted the request for a presidential release decree would proceed despite a recent statement in the Egyptian parliament strongly defending the 20-year-old's detention.

The case has been adjourned 14 times and the latest trial date is set for October. Mr Halawa staged a hunger strike protest last year and is again currently refusing food.

Read more: Fresh bid to seek release of Irishman imprisoned without trial for last three years

Read more: The Halawa case: Is Ibrahim a pawn in Egypt’s political game?

Earlier this year, both houses of the Oireachtas passed motions denouncing his "unacceptable" detention.

His solicitor Darragh Mackin said the stance of the Egyptian parliament had no basis in law. A legal application will be made for him this week to be released under a presidential decree. The Egyptian politicians would not impact on the application to the president, he said.

A previous bid for presidential intervention failed in early 2015.

Reacting to the stance of the Egyptian parliament, Mr Mackin said: "There is no hiding from the fact that such a politically charged statement is concerning, and unconstructive, in working towards Ibrahim's release.

"It is, however, a political statement, and has no basis in law, nor is it a direct response to the application for Ibrahim's release.

"Ibrahim Halawa is entitled to the presumption of innocence. No evidence has been produced."

Irish Independent

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