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Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Suicide fears' for Ibrahim Halawa after trial is postponed for eighth time

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Teenager Ibrahim Halawa has told his family he is contemplating suicide after his trial was postponed for the eighth time.

His family warned he has now become a "shadow of his former self" and that his mental health has been "destroyed".

Mr Halawa and almost 500 others face charges that include terrorism, murder and the use of explosives.

The 19-year-old, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been detained in Egypt since being arrested at the al-Fateh mosque in Cairo. This occurred during protests against the ousting of then president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.

The son of Sheikh Hussein Halawa, the imam of Ireland's largest mosque, he was taken into custody along with his sisters, Somaia and Fatima. While Ibrahim's sisters were quickly released, he was kept in prison.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, his sister Somaia last night described the repeated postponements of court proceedings as a former of "psychological torture".

"My brother is losing his sense of identity and is changing as a person," she said.

Somaia said the Irish Government should take more action on her brother's behalf, stressing that even if he was to be released, he will require years of "intense therapy".

"I don't think he'll be able to return to normal life... I was 26 when I was arrested so I was better able to deal with it, but he's so much younger and is struggling to keep strong.

"Living with all this uncertainty is destroying his mental health... He sent us letters saying he has thoughts of suicide. He said he feels it's the only solution and it might make the world speak."

This morning, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan told Morning Ireland that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will eventually intervene in the case later this year.

“[The Taoiseach will intervene] once he judges that the time and the circumstances for this intervention are right.

“All the informed advice received today suggests that it would be premature to do so.

“I expect to be talking to Foreign Minister Shourky over the coming weeks and my colleague Pat Breen, The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, will be visitng Egypt over the next few week and I expect that he will gain access to visit Mr Halawa.

He added that Mr Kenny will intervene "when the time is right, when the operation of the president's decree is not only possible but advisable and I expect that will be later on in the year.”

Irish Independent

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