Egyptian president tells TDs: 'I can't release Ibrahim Halawa until after trial'
THE Egyptian President has insisted that he can take no action to release Irish man Ibrahim Halawa from prison until after the judicial process has finished.
However, a delegation of TDs who raised Mr Halawa’s case with the president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are hopeful he will move to return Mr Halawa to Ireland once court proceedings are over.
Mr Halawa (21) has been in prison for more than three years without trial after being arrested at a Cairo demonstration against the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013.
The TDs met him on Tuesday and pleaded with him to end a hunger strike that he has been engaged in for the last week.
His trial has been postponed 17 times.
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin raised the issue of the repeated delays with Mr el-Sisi.
The delegation urged him to use powers under a law known as the Presidential Decree 140 to intervene now and release Mr Halawa.
They also suggested that Mr Halawa could be added to a youth clemency list, as had previously been done in the case of 82 other young prisoners.
The Egyptian president told TDs that there is a clear separation of powers under Egyptian law and that he couldn’t act until after the court proceedings.
However, Mr Howlin told Independent.ie that TDs were left with the “strong impression" that the Egyptian President would “act with immediate effect to release Ibrahim and return him to Ireland as soon as sentence had been passed and the court proceedings concluded.”
Mr Howlin said that the fact that the TDs had secured meetings with the President and other high level politicians and officials in Egypt gives “great confidence that this matter will be resolved”.
He said Mr Halawa’s next court appearance is due on January 17.
“There is a new judge and prosecutor who apparently wants to bring these matters to a conclusion and I certainly would personally be of the view that as soon as the judicial process is over, executive action will be taken to return him to Ireland,” Mr Howlin added.
He said that there should be no further delay in the court proceedings and that the Egyptian authorities must ensure Mr Halawa’s health and wellbeing are taken care of until he is returned to Ireland.