Belfast Telegraph

Family wants Egypt detention man home 'as soon as possible' after acquittal

Ibrahim Halawa's sister has said his family want him home as soon as possible following his acquittal in Egypt after four years in jail.

Mr Halawa was cleared on Monday of all charges connected to mass protests in Cairo in August 2013.

It is unlikely the 21-year-old will be released immediately due to procedures within the Egyptian judicial and prison authorities.

His sister Somaia Halawa said the family is "overjoyed" by the Egyptian court's verdict.

She added: "We are delighted at today's verdict. Our entire family are overjoyed at the result and we now look forward to seeing Ibrahim return home as soon as possible.

"We would like to extend our thanks to all those who tirelessly campaigned and fought for Ibrahim's release."

Mr Halawa's lawyer Darragh Mackin, of KRW LAW, said he and the Halawa family "will be actively engaging with the Irish and Egyptian Government to ensure that happens without any further delay".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also welcomed the news of Mr Halawa's acquittal.

He said he expected him to be released as soon as possible to return home to his family.

Mr Varadkar added: "The Government will facilitate his return home at the earliest opportunity.

"I want to acknowledge the consular and diplomatic work undertaken on Ibrahim's behalf by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish Embassy in Cairo throughout this lengthy process.

"Following today's verdict, they will continue to assist Ibrahim and his family to ensure he gets home as soon as possible."

Mr Halawa, a student and son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin - Sheikh Hussein Halawa - was jailed after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo four years ago amid protests over the removal of president Mohamed Morsi. He was 17 at the time.

He has been cleared of all charges.

His three sisters - Somaia, Fatima and Omaima - were also arrested but later released on bail and returned to Dublin.

All three, who were tried in absentia, were also acquitted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Government had been hoping for good news.

He added: "Ibrahim Halawa's name has been cleared and his innocence is confirmed. I look forward to him being released from custody without delay.

"My thoughts are with Ibrahim and his family at this time of great emotion for them.

"The Government's priority now is to support Ibrahim and his family in every way that we can in order to ensure that Ibrahim is able to return home to his family and friends as soon as possible.

"We are conscious that there will be some practical procedures and formalities to be gone through before Ibrahim will be able to fly back to Dublin, but my department and our embassy team will be assisting and supporting Ibrahim and his family to seek to ensure he gets home as soon as possible."

Upon his eventual release, Mr Halawa will not be able to return home to Ireland immediately due to security and immigration status issues.

Ireland's Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said Mr Halawa's acquittal must be followed by a swift return home.

"It is important that all who campaigned over the past four years continue to co-operate to ensure Ibrahim's return is arranged as soon as possible.

"I remain in close contact with Ibrahim's sister Somaia, his lawyers and Government colleagues to ensure that Ibrahim's needs are immediately assessed and any supports required put in place.

"Assessing his health, psychological and social needs must be the priority," she said.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph