Monday 16 July 2018

Explainer: Everything you need to know as verdict expected in trial of Irishman Ibrahim Halawa

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa
Irishman Ibrahim Halawa Newsdesk Newsdesk

A court is expected to deliver its verdict in the four year mass trial involving Irishman Ibrahim Halawa over Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo.

Why was the Irishman arrested in Cairo?

Mr Halawa (21) from Firhouse in Dublin was one of hundreds arrested in Cairo in August 2013, during anti-government protests.

He was protesting in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi who had been ousted from power in a military coup.

Why has he been in jail since 2013?

Mr Halawa's trial was delayed 28 times before his legal team were finally allowed to defend him in a mass trial.

Did the Irish Government intervene?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has arranged a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to ask that Mr Halawa be allowed to return to Ireland after the trial.

Speaking about the case previously Mr Varadkar said: "Certainly the Government is very keen to ensure that Ibrahim Halawa can return to Ireland as soon as possible," he said.

"The Egyptian government has always said that they cannot interfere in a trial in the same way an Irish Government cannot interfere in the court process. We will do everything we can to enable him to come home."

What is a mass trial?

Mr Halawa is being tried with 492 other prisoners.

Colm O'Gorman from Amnesty International said that mass trials can be very "unpredictable" as mass punishments can be handed down.

Will Mr Halawa return home?

The Government has drawn up contingency plans for three broad outcomes: an acquittal, a conviction on relatively minor charges, and a conviction for more serious offences.

If he is acquitted and the Egyptians fulfil their commitment, senior sources believe Mr Halawa could return to Ireland within two weeks. His formal release from prison would take three days.

If he is convicted on relatively minor charges, and sentenced to time already served, Irish sources believe he could be returned with minimal intervention.

A conviction of more serious offences, described by one source as “the worst-case scenario”, would require more political involvement.

Will the Taoiseach be in contact with Egyptian authorities today?

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed this morning that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be speaking to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at 5pm today.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Minister Coveney said the Irish Government are in "close contact" with the Halawa family.

"There are a few possible outcomes. Hopefully, Ibrahim Halawa will be found innocent and therefore won't require any intervention by the Irish government to get home, although obviously we want to help him and his family to get him home as soon as possible and we're working with the families," Minister Coveney said.

"He may be found guilty of something but may have already served his time for that, because he has been in prison for four years.

"Ibrahim may be found guilty of something serious that has a significant jail sentence attached to it.

"If that is the case, then we will contact the Egyptian president to follow through on his presidential power once the court case ends," he continued.

"The Taoiseach is speaking to the Egyptian president at 5pm today to talk about the Halawa case once we get an idea of what that verdict is.

"We'll have clarity between 11am this morning and the afternoon.

"We are in close contact with his family to try and bring an end to the four-year ordeal today."

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