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Egyptian President refuses to release Ibrahim Halawa but says he can return to Ireland after his trial

The trial has been postponed 17 times.

Image: Amnesty International

THE EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT has promised Irish politicians that Ibrahim Halawa will be allowed return home to Ireland once his trial has been concluded.

Halawa has been jailed in Egypt since August 2013 after he was arrested at a protest in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been ousted from power by the Egyptian military.

No evidence has yet been presented against Halawa and his trial has been postponed 17 times.

A group of eight TDs met with Halawa in prison yesterday and today the delegation met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sissi with the goal of securing his release.

Sinn Féin representative Eoin Ó Broin was a member of the delegation and says they urged El Sissi to release Halawa by presidential decree.

The decree allows foreign prisoners continue their detention in their home country and was used in the case of Australian journalist Peter Greste.

“If he was unwilling to do this, we urged him to ensure that Ibrahim would be on the Youth Amnesty list which we understand is currently being compiled,” Ó Broin said this evening.

President el-Sissi said that while he was not willing to intervene before the trial concluded, at that stage he would ensure Ibrahim’s safe and speedy return to Ireland.

Ó Broin added that the Irish delegation today also met with members of the Egyptian parliament and senior army generals.

“At every meeting we highlighted our concern for the ongoing imprisonment without trial of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa,” he said.

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Halawa next court date has been set for 17 January and Amnesty International Ireland has issued a cautious welcome to the pledge that Halawa will be released once the trial is completed.

Executive Director Com O’Gorman warned that the legal process so far has been “unfair”:

Though this news is welcome, it is dependent on the completion of his mass trial which does not meet fair trial standards required under international law. Though this report might appear encouraging, Ibrahim’s return to Ireland is dependent upon the completion of an unfair judicial process which shows no sign of coming to a conclusion.

Egyptian authorities have persisted in putting Halawa on trial with 494 other defendants in a mass trial that observers have said has contributed to the repeated delays in the process.

The eight TDs in the delegation are Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, Darragh O’Brien, Colm Brophy, Brendan Howlin, Paul Murphy, Eoin Ó Broin, Eamon Ryan, Noel Grealish TD.

Read: Ibrahim Halawa described as “strong and very brave” as TDs meet him in Cairo jail >

Read: Ibrahim Halawa set for court tomorrow – his 21st birthday >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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