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British PM urged to intervene in case of teenager facing trial in Egypt

Published 02/11/2015

Ibrahim Halawa with his sisters (Family handout/PA)
Ibrahim Halawa with his sisters (Family handout/PA)

British lawyers working to free an Irish teenager jailed two years ago during political protests in Egypt have asked British prime minister David Cameron to intervene.

Barristers from Doughty Street Chambers in London have written to Mr Cameron ahead of his meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urging him to raise the case of Ibrahim Halawa .

He was 17 when he was detained while taking refuge in a mosque near Cairo's Ramses Square as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of their elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Mr Halawa, now 19, is due to go on trial on December 15.

Lawyers have also sent Mr Cameron a copy of a detailed legal opinion setting out their analysis of alleged rights abuses Mr Halawa has suffered.

Barrister Caoilfhionn Gallagher, of Doughty Street Chambers which specialises in civil liberties issues, said their client's treatment in Egypt has been appalling.

"He now faces an impending mass trial, along with 493 others, which is overwhelmingly likely to be unfair, in conditions which make a mockery of justice. Egypt continues to act with flagrant disregard for its obligations under international law."

The case has already been raised by the lawyers at the European Parliament.

Mr Halawa's solicitor, Darragh Mackin, of KRW Law in Belfast, said: "The prime minister must use his meetings with President Sisi to pressure Egypt to send Ibrahim home to Ireland."

Although Mr Halawa is an Irish citizen, Mr Mackin said there was a precedent as the British PM had taken interest in another case involving a non-UK citizen, Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives who was jailed on terrorism charges following a trial the United Nations branded unfair.

Mr Mackin added: "We hope the prime minister will seize this opportunity to call for his (Mr Halawa's) return to Europe."

The teenager, from Firhouse in south Dublin, has been detained in Cairo since August 2013.

He was initially arrested with three of his sisters and w ith the trial looming, the potential for the death penalty is hanging over him if convicted.

His lawyers, who were refused access to him until September, said he was denied medical treatment for a gunshot wound to his hand following his arrest and he has been left permanently disfigured as a result.

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