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Family of teenager jailed in Egypt take battle to Brussels

Published 19/10/2015

Ibrihim Halawa with sisters Fatima, Omaima and Somaia.
Ibrihim Halawa with sisters Fatima, Omaima and Somaia.

The family of an Irish teenager jailed two years ago over political protests in Egypt are taking their fight for his freedom to the European Parliament tomorrow.

Ibrahim Halawa 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.

Now 19, he has been in prison for more than 800 days.

His trial has been adjourned until December 15, with the potential for the death penalty hanging over him if convicted.

His sister Somaia said they will have to take their fight to the highest level to secure his release.

"We have seen how the efforts of the EU helped in the case of Al-Jazeera journalists and we believe that with wider EU support, Ibrahim's release can be secured," she said.

In Brussels, the family and their lawyers will host a briefing on the case for Irish MEPs organised Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan.

The legal team will also make an address to the parliament, calling on European authorities to act to securing the teenager's immediate release.

Mr Halawa, from Firhouse in south Dublin, has been detained in Cairo since August 2013. He was initially arrested with three of his sisters.

His lawyers, who were refused access to him until last month, 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.

Australian journalist Peter Greste, who was detained after reporting on the Cairo turmoil, will address MEPs as he was eventually released following international diplomatic and legal pressure.

The Reprieve organisation, which works for people facing death penalty cases, will also make an address.

Darragh Mackin, of KRW LAW - which is representing the Halawa family, said addressing MEPs with other lawyers and journalists should send a clear message to Cairo authorities that the EU is taking the Halawa case very seriously and the consequences cannot be ignored.

"We shall continue to seek Ibrahim's immediate release and this opportunity on Brussels is part of that campaign," he said.

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