Egypt promises return of Ibrahim Halawa - but not before trial
2017-01-15 12:27:15 -
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

Egypt’s president has indicated that Ibrahim Halawa would be allowed to return to his family in Ireland – but not before the end of his trial.

President Abdul el-Sissi made that statement during a special meeting with an Oireachtas delegation, who were on a five-day visit to Egypt at the invitation of Egyptian parliament house speaker Dr Ali Abdel Aal.

As well as fostering bilateral co-operation in several areas, a key aim of the visit was to seek the release of Ibrahim Halawa, the young Tallaght man who has been imprisoned in Egypt since his arrest amid anti-government protests in August 2013.

The delegation said it was optimistic that Halawa would be released under Presidential Decree 140, or granted a pardon if not released by the court, according to its head, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail.

“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,” added Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West.

“Ireland has long standing political, economic and cultural ties with Egypt. However, the continued imprisonment of Ibrahim Halawa is clearly an obstacle to the future development of these mutually beneficial links.

“At all of our meetings, our Egyptian counterparts indicated that they now understood the importance of this issue to us and our electorate. Hopefully, the signal that our cross-party delegation has sent to all sections of the Egyptian political system, and in particular to President el-Sissi, would assist in securing the speedy return of Ibrahim to his family and friends in Ireland.”

The delegation visited Cairo’s Wadi el Natrun prison to meet Halawa, who Ó Broin described as “strong and very brave” and added that “the physical and emotional strain of spending three years and four months in prison without trial is clearly showing.

“He told us of the poor conditions in which he is being kept, of his ongoing medical problems but most of all of his burning desire to return home.”

Amnesty International Ireland’s executive director Colm O’Gorman welcomed the news, though noted that it is “dependent upon the completion of an unfair judicial process which shows no sign of coming to a conclusion.

“Since his arrest in August 2013, Amnesty International have been calling for Ibrahim’s release. It is long past time that the Egyptian authorities respect international human rights law and allow this young Irish citizen to return home.”

Other members of the Oireachtas delegation included Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil), Colm Brophy (Fine Gael), Labour leader Brendan Howlin, Paul Murphy (Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit), Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Noel Grealish (Rural Independent Group).
TAGS : Ireland Egypt Ibrahim Halawa Trial
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