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Egypt is urged to
ensure Irish teen receives fair trial

foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has insisted he is pressurising the Egyptian government over Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa who has been imprisoned in Cairo for almost a year.

Ibrahim's sister, Somaia Halawa (28), met Mr Flanagan last week to deliver a letter signed by 25 EU members requesting him to call for Ibrahim's immediate release ahead of his trial on August 12.

Mr Flanagan said he had briefed the family on the latest developments in the case, and was continuing to take a close personal interest.

concerns

The minister told the Halawa family that he had spoken to Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and subsequently wrote to him setting out the Government's concerns with regard to the handling of Ibrahim's case.

"In my contacts with Mr Shoukry, I stressed that while I was in no way attempting to interfere in the judicial process, it is the Government's view that Ibrahim should not be tried as part of a trial involving a large number of defendants," he said.

"He should be advised of the specific charges to be laid against him and be allowed to be defended in court by a lawyer of his choosing."

Somaia Halawa said the family are growing increasingly concerned for her brother's welfare.

"Ibrahim has been in prison for 12 months now, and he didn't do anything wrong. I'm appealing to the Government to take serious action," she said.

Ibrahim, who turned 18 while in prison, is from Firhouse, Co Dublin, and was arrested last summer while holidaying in Egypt with his family.

He and his older sisters were in Cairo protesting against the ousting of then president-elect Mohamed Morsi when violent clashes broke out between security forces and demonstrators.

The Halawa siblings sought sanctuary in the Al-Fateh Mosque and were arrested there.

Sisters Omaima (21), Fatima (23) and Somaia (28), who were born in Egypt, were released on bail last November and allowed to return to Ireland.

They have since refused to return to Egypt and will be tried in absentia.

They have become increasingly frustrated with the slow reaction from authorities.

"Canada and Turkey requested the release of their prisoners and they were subsequently released, so I don't believe the Irish Government can't get involved," said Somaia.

"This is more than judicial proceedings, this is a human rights violation."

access

Ibrahim, whose father Hussein is the imam of the Clonskeagh mosque, is to be tried as part of a mass trial with 483 others.

His solicitor has not been allowed access to his case papers, and it is believed that the prisoners will be collectively represented by one solicitor.

The trial, which was due to take place on July 16, was postponed due to technical difficulties.

The Irish ambassador to Egypt, Isolde Moylan, and a number of consular staff and members of an EU delegation are to attend the court hearing.

hnews@herald.ie


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