IBRAHIM HALAWA IS not facing murder charges, it has emerged.
It had been reported that the Tallaght man – who was arrested more than a year-and-a-half ago during a protest in Cairo – was facing charges of murder, attempted murder and participating in an illegal protest.
Today, the Taoiseach said that according to information recently received by the embassy from Ibrahim Halawa’s legal team, not all of the defendants are facing identical charges.
This had originally been thought to be the case and was “a key cause of concern”, said Kenny.
It now appears that there are different charges against different defendants within the group trial and that Ibrahim Halawa is one of a relatively large group of defendants facing more preliminary charges related to events at the al-Fatah mosque
- Presence inside the mosque at the time of arrest
- Refusal to leave the mosque when requested to do so and when offered safe passage by military police
- Travelling from a different part of the city with the intention of getting involved in a protest
- Assisting in locking and barricading the mosque from the inside, according to photo and video evidence
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister are seeking clarification of the exact charges against Ibrahim and examining what this change may mean, said Kenny.
“In the meantime, and on the face of it, the new information would seem to be a somewhat positive development,” said Kenny.
Progress in the case
Deputy Boyd Barrett asked about progress in respect of the Halawa case.
The Taoiseach said that the objectives in this case “are very clear”.
The first is to see Mr Halawa released by the Egyptian authorities so he can return to his family and studies here in Ireland. The second is to provide consular support to secure his welfare while he remains in detention.
Kenny said that where an Irish citizen is charged with an offence under the law of a foreign country and is imprisoned in that country, it is the foreign law that applies.
The decision to release Halawa either on bail or on any other basis will be made solely by the Egyptian authorities.
“Since he was detained originally in August 2013 he has received consular visits on 37 different occasions,” said Kenny.
I can confirm that the Irish Government has formally supported both the application of his lawyers for his release and his return to Ireland under the November presidential decree and the more recent application for his release on bail.
He added that: “Unfortunately, the application for release on bail was rejected at the most recent hearing of his case”.
“The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, has been in ongoing and continuous personal contract with his Egyptian counterpart.”
The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for 3 June.
The Taoiseach said that “any inappropriate escalation of political intervention could well be counterproductive to our objectives in this case and to Mr Halawa’s best interests”.
The Taoiseach also said that “no other consular case is receiving greater attention in the Minister, Deputy Flanagan’s Department at this time than the Halawa case”.
In response to Deputy Paul Murphy, Kenny said that Ireland has made clear its continued concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt in general.
Regarding calls for him to intervene, Kenny said he keeps “in very close contact with the Minister, Deputy Flanagan” about the matter and is “very conscious of the need not to escalate this in the wrong way”.