Saturday 18 November 2017

Ibrahim Halawa’s release from prison in Egypt is a 'matter of a short number of days'

Ibrahim Halawa has been in a Cairo jail since 2013
Ibrahim Halawa has been in a Cairo jail since 2013

Shona Murray

Ibrahim Halawa’s release from prison in Egypt is a “matter of a short number of days” according to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.

He added that the Irish government has requested the "ongoing" process for his formal release be “fast-tracked.”

"We want to see Ibrahim Halawa at home with his family as soon as possible" said the minister, who was speaking at the launch of Irish Aid's Annual Report.

The 21-year old Irish man has been in prison for 4 years but last Monday was cleared of all charges as part of a mass trial of nearly 500 other defendants.

“A number of things have to happen”, under the Egyptian judicial system in order for a prisoner to be released after an acquittal, said the minister.

Firstly, the country’s Prosecutor General has to write to the prison service to “instruct them" to release the person.

Ibrahim will then be moved from the prison to the Security Directorate to confirm there are no other outstanding issues that would impact on his release, such as a pending conviction.

“Once he moves from the prison to the Security Directorate, things will happen very quickly we’re told”, said Minister Coveney.

According to Mr. Coveney, a draft letter from the Prosecutor General to the prison service requesting his release has been written up but “hasn’t been acted upon yet.”

“That’s the space we’re in at the moment, he added.

No evidence was presented in court against Mr Halawa in relation to his attendance at a protest during the military-led ousting of former Egyptian Mohammad Morsi in August 2013.

His three sisters who were arrested alongside him were also formally acquitted. They were released shortly after their arrest and returned to Ireland.

Ibrahim Halawa will return home from Cairo on a commercial vehicle as opposed to the Government Jet which had been suggested before, according to a government spokesperson.

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