Monday 19 March 2018

Minister 'hopeful and confident' Halawa will be released today and home in 72 hours

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said he is hopeful and confident Ibrahim Halawa will be freed from prison today and back in Ireland before the middle of the week.

Simon Coveney explained that there has been a delay in the release because it is currently Muslim new year in Egypt where the Irish teenager has been held for the last four years.

Last week, Mr Halawa (21) was acquitted on all charges relating to mass protests in Cairo, Egypt.

Despite this young man, from Firhouse, South Dublin, remains in custody and the minister was quizzed about this on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One about the delay.

Mr Coveney said: "We have just been unlucky in the timing here. We have just had the Muslim new year from last Wednesday evening until yesterday morning, basically Egypt was shut down."

"There is a legal process in the Egyptian system that is quite different."

"No decisions were being made. There is a legal process in the Egyptian system which is quite different to Ireland."

"To explain how that works, after a court case is over the prosecutor's office have to formally (notify) the prison service that a prisoner has been acquitted and should be released to what is called the security directorate."

"That is what we are waiting for at the moment."

Mr Coveney said he is being briefed on the release process in Cairo.

"We understand that letter has been drafted and so we are hoping today both we will get a copy of the letter and Ibrahim will move from the prison service to the security directorate."

"That is in the middle of Cairo.

"Once that happens there is a pretty short period of time that is required for standard checks to make sure there are no outstanding warrants for arrest or anything like that.

"Then he will be transferred back to the police station where he was originally arrested - that is what is required under Egyptian law before he is released.

"Once he moves from the prison service to the security directorate, the rest of it will happen quite quickly. That is what we are being told.

"We are hoping that may happen today."

"I would be very hopeful and confident that we will see Ibrahim home before the middle of the week."

The Halawa family are planning a major celebration to welcome the young man back to Dublin.

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