Friday 28 October 2016

Ibrahim Halawa says he was ‘badly beaten’ in Egyptian prison for refusing an embassy visit

Dáire Courtney

Published 17/10/2016 | 13:08

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish prisoner awaiting trial after three years in prison in Egypt, was ‘badly beaten’ last month, according to a letter provided by his family.

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In a statement to, Ibrahim’s sister Somaia Halawa said that Ibrahim was badly beaten and tortured in response to his refusal to accept a visit from the Irish Embassy on September 13.

In a letter, which Somaia says was sent with a cellmate’s family, Ibrahim explained that he was beaten and brought to solitary confinement.

"After the family visit the embassy came I was in a terrible state from what happened to me on Monday. I was hit and brought to solitary confinement and than after I was put in a cell with convicted prisoners (killers). This was the last time with the family.

“This time I was brought to solitary confinement during the embassy was upstairs in the office, I was hit and cursed by the worst curses and I screamed so the embassy can hear me and I don't know if they did? All I said to the officer is that I am not visiting the embassy until you get me someone from the foreign ministry office, I just said that and things came dropping on me like rain then I was brought again to the cell of convicted criminals.

“I refused to enter as my breathing problems because the all smoke and its small cell with 32 people than I was hit again and brought to the officer and they forced me to sign a paper saying I refused to visit, I told hem put in the details and they cursed me and said I'm gonna sign it just like this I wanted the beating to end. I told him that I am not going to go to the trial on Sunday because I refuse to be trailed in Egypt and want to be handed back to my country. He laughed and said "anyway your judge postponed it on a national holiday so you don't get trialled."”

Ibrahim's last scheduled trial date was on October 2, a national holiday. His new trial date is November 12.

The 20-year old from Firhouse in Dublin was arrested in August 2013 at the age of 17 during a protest against the military-backed ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Since then, his trial, which was meant to start in August 2014, has been delayed 15 times and he has spent over three years in small, cramped cells with as many as 30 other prisoners at a time.

He has spoken previously about being beaten and abused in prison, but the Egyptian authorities deny the claims.

He is being tried along with 493 others, a situation which Amnesty International claim will make it impossible to get a fair trial. If convicted, he could be facing the death penalty.

The Oireachtas called for his release and return to Ireland this August, but the speaker of the Egyptian parliament rejected the move.

Ibrahim’s former cellmate, an Australian journalist for Al Jazeera, told RTÉ that Ibrahim’s dual Irish-Egyptian status was disadvantaging him: “We got support because my name was Peter, not Ibrahim.”

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