Egypt rebuffs request to free Dublin youth Ibrahim Halawa

Egypt rebuffs request to free Dublin youth Ibrahim Halawa
Possible death sentence still looms over Dublin man who was arrested in Egypt aged 17 and accused of violence.
3 min read
10 August, 2016
Ireland's parliament has called for Ibrahim Halawa to be released [Facebook]

Cairo has rejected requests from Ireland's parliament to free Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa, who has been imprisoned in Egypt since 2013 for charges related to violence and rioting.

On July 8, both houses of Ireland's parliament passed motions with cross-party support that protested Halawa's detention. Egyptian parliamentarians responded to their Irish counterparts, however, by saying that their requests were an attempt to interfere in the affairs of Egypt's judiciary.

Halawa, who was 17-years-old at the time of his arrest, was on holiday in Egypt with his family while unrest was simmering between Egypt's military regime and supporters of Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamad Morsi.

His family say that he was sheltering from the violence that had broken out when he was arrested during a siege at the al-Fath Mosque in Cairo. 

Egyptian authorites accuse Halawa, along with over 400 others, of inciting violence, rioting and sabotage. If found guilty, the Dublin-born man faces a possible death sentence.

'No impact'

While describing the Egyptian parliament's decision as "disheartening," Halawa's lawyer Darragh Mackin said the legislature's decision had no legal bearing and thus would not affect the application to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who Mackin believes will have the final say in the matter.

Halawa's family team are looking to lodge this application in the coming days, despite the fact that a previous attempt at securing a presidential intervention in 2015 failed.

"There is no hiding from the fact that such a politically charged statement is concerning, and unconstructive, in working towards Ibrahim's release," Mackin said in response to the parliament's refusal.

"It is however a political statement, and has no basis in law, nor is it a direct response to the application for Ibrahim's release.

"Ibrahim Halawa is entitled to the presumption of innocence. No evidence has been produced by the state of Egypt to support these allegations, and no finding has been made against Ibrahim by the Egyptian courts."

No prospect of a fair trial

Halawa's legal team is placing its faith in a presidential intervention as it sees little chance of their client receiving a fair trial.

"There is no prospect that Ibrahim will receive a fair trial. A request for Ibrahim's immediate release under the Egyptian presidential decree law 140 is now imminent. It is expected that this request will be lodged before the end of the week" Mackin said.

On Sunday, a statement read by Egypt's parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal accused Hawala of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The statement also said that Halawa, now 20,was charged with assaulting police, disrupting roads and endangering the safety of citizens.

To date, Ibrahim Halawa has been held for over 1,090 days by Egyptian authorities and has yet to face trial for the charges he faces.

During this time, the Irish citizen has launched a hunger strike and had the UN intervene on his behalf, however all attempts to secure his release to date have been unsuccessful.

According to his sister Somaia Halawa, who spent some time with him in detention before being released with two other siblings, Ibrahim Halawa has been electrocuted and beaten by authorities during his time in incarceration, which will reach three years on August 17.