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Hunger-striking teen 'surviving on dirty water'

A Dublin student on 
hunger strike in an Egyptian prison is surviving on "dirty water", his family have said.

They say they will hold the Irish Government responsible if anything happens to him, following repeated pleas for help to secure his release.

Ibrahim Halawa (18), who was taken into custody in Cairo in August last year, decided to go on hunger strike last Wednesday after the dramatic collapse of a mass trial in which his case was being heard.

His sister Somaia Halawa said the family heard the news after one of her siblings visited him in prison.

However, Ms Halawa is hopeful her brother will resume eating food shortly.

"I am sure it is not going to last for a week. If this continues on . . . I'm holding the responsibility to the Irish Government," she said.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she shares "the concern of his family".

Ms Fitzgerald said Charlie Flanagan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has "been very involved in making the case".

Worried

"We would be very 
concerned for him, and do everything that we possibly can at an international level and in association with the Egyptian authorities to ensure his eventual release," she added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs outlined how there has been a series of high-level contacts between Irish officials and their Egyptian counterparts to try to get Ibrahim (pictured above) released.

The young man was one of 483 defendants involved in last Tuesday's mass trial that was abandoned by the judge as the prisoners involved were held in a glass cell in the courtroom.

Ibrahim's 28-year-old sister said the family are now "very, very worried" for the welfare of the Leaving Certificate student.

"His freedom has been taken away from him. I am sure that he is mentally affected being in prison for 12 months," she said.

"He is only drinking water, and it is dirty water."

Last week's trial was originally set for July 16, but was postponed as concerns were raised over the lack of space.

The case now faces further delays as a new judge must be appointed.

The Dublin resident was imprisoned last year after a day of protests against the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in the capital Cairo.

His three older sisters also spent time in prison but were released in November. They are the children of the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Sheikh Hussein Halawa.

hnews@herald.ie


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