Friday 15 December 2017

4 Irish siblings held in Egypt await their fate

THE family of four Irish siblings being detained in Egypt are anxiously waiting to hear if they will be released from jail today or detained further.

Omaima (20), Fatima (22), Somaia (27) and 17-year-old Ibrahim Halawa have been held in custody for almost two weeks in Cairo.

The three sisters and brother had travelled from Dublin to Egypt for their summer holidays.

They were arrested after joining Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations against the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.


They became trapped in a mosque at the protests and were subsequently taken into custody. The siblings were to appear before a special prosecutor today, with the outcome still uncertain by midday.

"Since they took them we had the hope that maybe today they would release them," their sister Nosayba Halawa said today.

Her brother Ibrahim is having a tough time in detention, with the detainees being threatened by the security forces, she added.

"They try to scare them and ... telling them 'we will open the jail and we're going to kill everyone there and we're going to say you were trying to run'," Nosayba revealed.

Of today's hearing, she added: "All we have is the hope that they will release them."

Khadija, another sister, said: "To be honest, we are hoping for good news but to be honest because of the situation in Cairo now we're not very sure of what is going to happen.

"They've not told us exactly will they be held with them again or will they be left free."

She is concerned because all the detainees were yesterday given a document to sign setting out charges.

"Each person had a charge that they hadn't even done before. We tried to get in contact with Ibrahim to not sign it.

"We're hoping they will leave them with no charges because we do have information that they might be kept for another 15 days because that's what they do normally," Khadija told RTE's Morning Ireland.

"I am very worried to be honest, that's what I can say. I'm very, very worried," she added.

Her siblings were to be assisted by two lawyers at today's hearing, as well as an Irish diplomat.

"Today, the prosecutor will be going to where Ibrahim is held and the girls will be moved there for the questions to be happening there," Khadija said today.

Khadija understood that Ibrahim would be joined by his three sisters at the Salam security camp where they would be brought before a special prosecutor.

She said she hoped the presence of the lawyers and the embassy representative "could make a difference".

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello said the Irish consular service had been in contact with the Halawa family members and with the prosecutor's office.


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