Three sisters held in Egypt freed
Published 14/11/2013 | 14:16
Three Irish sisters held without trial in an Egyptian prison for three months have won their battle for freedom.
Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore confirmed the Halawa sisters had been granted release but that their teenage brother was still being detained.
The sisters are expected to be freed tomorrow once their cases have been processed while their 17-year-old brother Ibrahim faces a court hearing on Saturday.
"I welcome the fact that Somaia, Fatima and Omaima Halawa have been granted release from detention in Egypt," Mr Gilmore said.
"I telephoned Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy on Monday last to express my concern that the Halawa siblings had been kept in prison for almost three months without being charged with an offence.
"I also expressed the Government's hope and expectation that the situation would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the near future."
Sisters Omaima, 20, Fatima, 22, and Somaia, 27, and their brother Ibrahim - from Firhouse, south Dublin - were jailed on August 17.
The siblings, whose father Sheikh Hussein Halawa is the imam of Ireland's largest mosque, had travelled to Egypt earlier in the summer for a holiday.
The four were forced to seek sanctuary in the Al Fateh mosque in mid-August after violent clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and the security forces.
They were subsequently jailed in Tora prison and held in separate holdings since their arrest.
The Tanaiste said Ireland's embassy in Cairo had been in regular contact with the siblings throughout their detention, visiting them in prison and providing consular assistance.
"I have been informed that Ibrahim Halawa will attend a further hearing in Egypt on Saturday," Mr Gilmore added.
"My department will continue to provide consular assistance to him and liaise with the Egyptian authorities on his ongoing detention without charge."
The foreign affairs minister earlier raised the siblings' plight with his EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg last month, where he also met Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi.
No specific charges were brought against the family and their detention had been extended on a number of occasions.