Thursday 22 February 2018

Renewed hope for Halawa's return

Prayers: Katherine Zappone. Photo: Collins
Prayers: Katherine Zappone. Photo: Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has said she hopes the verdict in the Ibrahim Halawa case will pave the way for his "swift return home".

A major diplomatic effort to secure the Dubliner's return to Ireland is set to kick in if, as expected, the final verdict is delivered by an Egyptian Court today.

Mr Halawa (21) has been in jail for the last four years after he was arrested along with hundreds of other individuals during 2013 protests against the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

There have been numerous court hearings, which have all been adjourned, prompting widespread criticism here of the length of time he has been held without trial.

Ms Zappone has been in touch with Mr Halawa's family over the weekend. "My thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with Ibrahim, his family and the thousands who have campaigned on his behalf," she said.

"As their local TD I will be watching and hoping that the verdict will pave the way for Ibrahim's swift return home," Ms Zappone added.

She also said she will work to ensure that supports are put in place for his return.

"His health, psychological and social requirements must be assessed as a priority and support offered," she said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to speak to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi by phone to ask that Mr Halawa be allowed to return to Ireland after the trial.

Speaking about the case over the weekend 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."

It is hoped that Mr Halawa could be back in Ireland within weeks.

Irish Independent

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