herald

Thursday 21 September 2017

Ibrahim ordeal goes on as trial is delayed 22nd time

Student Ibrahim Halawa
Student Ibrahim Halawa

The trial of a young Irishman languishing in an Egyptian jail for nearly four years has been delayed for the 22nd time.

Ibrahim Halawa (21) has been held in a crowded Cairo prison for 44 months.

He was jailed after being arrested during Muslim Brotherhood protests in the Egyptian capital.

A mass trial involving Ibrahim and hundreds of other alleged conspirators has been repeatedly adjourned.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan's department has been trying to secure his release so he might return to his family in Dublin.

He has now spent 1,348 days in prison.

Ibrahim is the son of prominent Dublin-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa.

Tortured

The student was imprisoned after being detained in a mosque near Cairo's Ramses Square during protests over the removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi.

He claims to have been tortured and has gone on hunger strikes during his imprisonment, and his family fear for his health.

Earlier this week, Ibrahim wrote an impassioned letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny begging for his release after he watched another inmate - Egyptian-US citizen and co-founder of the Belady Foundation for Street Children Aya Hegazy - being freed.

Amnesty International has said Ibrahim's innocence has "been further vindicated" by Egypt's own legal system.

It said a court-appointed technical committee reviewed audio-video material presented in the case and found no evidence against him.

However, the committee's report, which was ordered after almost three years of detention, does not even mention Ibrahim.

Amnesty Ireland director Colm O'Gorman said his ordeal had been "nothing short of horrific".

He said an independent review had found "that he was arrested solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of assembly and expression".

"Amnesty researchers in Cairo on the night of his arrest confirm that he was sheltering in the Al Fath mosque and could not have committed the violent acts he's been charged with," he said.

Amnesty is "gravely concerned for Ibrahim's physical and mental well-being" and has urged the Irish government to continue to work for his release.

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