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Ibrahim Halawa could be home 'within days' after being found not guilty in Egypt

The hearing of Halawa’s case was delayed 28 times.

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Updated 4.20 pm 

DUBLINER IBRAHIM HALAWA could be home “in a matter of days” after being found innocent after four years in an Egyptian prison. His sisters Somaia, Fatima and Omaima have similarly been acquitted.

Halawa (21), an Irish citizen, was arrested during a protest in 2013 in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi who had been ousted from power in a military coup.

The hearing of Halawa’s case was delayed 28 times before his legal team finally had a chance to defend him in court in early August.

Ibrahim’s sister Somaia told TheJournal.ie that the family are “so delighted”.

“It’s been a long four years and we can’t believe that this has happened today.

“We hope he’ll be released soon and home within a couple of days.”

Today in court he was acquitted of all charges, something that Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone says should be followed by a swift return home.

“My thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with Ibrahim and his family, his dedicated legal team and everyone who I worked and campaigned with to bring us to this moment.

“It is important that all who campaigned over the past four years continue to co-operate to ensure Ibrahim’s return is arranged as soon as possible.”

“The Halawa family, in particular sisters Somaia and Fatima, are among the most inspiring people I have campaigned side by side with. At vigils, demonstrations and meetings within Government Buildings, their patience, persistence and resilience has been an inspiration, as is their love for their brother.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the news and said that the government wold help facilitate his return.

“I hope it’ll bring to an end what will be a four-year ordeal, not just for him but for his family,” Varadkar told reporters at Government Buildings.

I’ve been in contact with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to discuss this matter just in the last few hours, he’s in New York at the moment and obviously we’ll be assisting the family and Egyptian authorities to enable his return to Ireland as soon as is possible.

An Taoiseach added that it’s not known “for sure” when Ibrahim Halawa will return to Ireland but that it’s expected in the coming days.

I would anticipate that it would just be in a matter of days, but we don’t know that for sure. Obviously our consular and embassy staff on the ground will work with both him and the Egyptian authorities to enable him to come home as soon as possible and I do think it’s a welcome end to what really has been a four-year ordeal, not just for him personally but his family and also his friends.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said:

“On behalf of the government and on my own behalf I welcome the news from Cairo that Ibrahim Halwa has been acquitted. This is the good news we had been hoping for. Ibrahim Halawa’s name has been cleared and his innocence is confirmed.

“I look forward to him being released from custody without delay.”

Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International said that “nothing can excuse” what Halawa went through.

“He spent more than four years locked up in harrowing conditions in various different Egyptian prison cells, without access to proper medical care. He was unlawfully detained with no credible evidence to support the charges laid against him.”

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who led a parliamentary delegation to Cairo to visit Ibrahim in January said:

“When I met Ibrahim in January, I expressed my hope that I would see him back in Dublin soon and while the process has been frustrating and long, I am delighted that Ibrahim will soon be reunited with his family back in Ireland.”

Micheál Martin told TheJournal.ie:

“I am delighted with the news that he has been found not guilty. I think it has been unacceptable the delay in progressing his case and contravenes all basic fundamental tenets of human rights. So we look forward now to his return to his family at the earliest opportunity. Genuinely I am delighted for him and his family that this not guilty verdict has been issued.”

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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