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Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa

THE FAMILY of a Dublin teenager who has been imprisoned in Egypt for the past 16 months have, once again, called on the Government to press for his release.

Ibrahim Halawa (18) was due to appear in a Cairo court yesteday alongside 493 other people yesterday, but the case was postponed until January 6 due to the difficulty of processing such a large number of defendants.

He was arrested along with his three sisters at the Al-Fateh mosque in Central Cairo in August last year during a banned protest against the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

His sisters Somaia (28), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21) were held for three months before being released and allowed to return to Ireland.

According to the siblings, they sought refuge in the mosque after security officials began to fire on protesters.

Somaia Halawa told the Herald she does not believe her brother will ever receive a fair trial in Egypt.

"This is not the first time the trial has been cancelled. The first time he wasn't even allowed to see a judge and when he refused to leave he was beaten and he was tortured," she said.

"If the Government are waiting for justice, that will never happen. If they are waiting for a fair trial, this has once again proven that will never happen."

defendants

More than 400 of the 494 defendants are charged with murder and attempted murder, offences that are normally punishable by death under Egyptian law.

Amnesty International has, once again, called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the Irish teenager.

The human rights organisation said they have conducted a thorough examination of Mr Halawa's case and concluded that he is a "prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression."

Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland said Amnesty researchers have established that Mr Halawa is "entirely innocent" of the crimes with which he is being charged.

"Neither he nor his sisters were at the location of the alleged shooting, locked as they were in the sanctuary of the Al-Fateh mosque," he said.

"Ibrahim's only crime was peaceful protest and exercising his right to freedom of expression…We do not believe that Ibrahim or the other defendants can receive a fair trial in Egypt under the current circumstances."

A protest will be held outside the Egyptian embassy at 4pm on December 13 to coincide with Mr Halawa's 19th birthday.

"It is just to try and get the message across and tell the Irish government and the Egyptian government that we want to bring him back. The Irish government has influence, they can use it and need to use it now," said Ms Halawa.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said officials have provided consular support to the Halawa family "from the outset" visiting Mr Halawa in prison on almost thirty occasions.

"The Embassy in Cairo will continue to assist Ibrahim and to press the Egyptian government for his release," she said.

hnews@herald.ie


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