Belfast Telegraph

Ibrahim Halawa's family call on Enda Kenny to demand his release from Egypt jail

The family of jailed Irishman Ibrahim Halawa have called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to publicly demand his release from an Egyptian jail.

More than three years on from his incarceration and 19 adjournments in a mass trial, t he Halawas said nothing will change unless Ireland takes a hardline.

"Our brother will continue to waste his life away in a prison. He will continue to be beaten and punished. His family will continue to worry ourselves every day and night about his safety," they said.

Mr Halawa, 21, was imprisoned after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

The latest delay in the mass trial of almost 500 people is understood to have been ordered after judges said witnesses could not be called while some defendants, who are involved in other cases, were not present.

The Halawas said they are absolutely broken-hearted and frustrated.

Last month Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told a cross-party delegation of politicians that he will be freed once his trial is over.

The Halawas said: "I t is now clear to everyone that the Egyptian Authorities are making a laugh of the Irish Government.

"President Sisi's promises of releasing Ibrahim when the trial has concluded are useless if the trial never starts in the first place. He could pardon Ibrahim today, he could make sure that Ibrahim is included in the youth amnesty but he wont because the pressure for him to do it is not there."

T he family said it is impossible for Mr Halawa to have a fair trial in a mass trial.

They called on the Government to make it clear to Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Hassan Shoukr when he travels to Malta next month that they will hold up any EU deals with Egypt until Mr Halawa is home.

They added: "We are asking the Irish Government today: when are they going to say enough is enough? When is the Taoiseach going to make that phone call to President Sisi?

"We were told back in July that the Irish Government were going to change their approach, yet nothing has changed. No phone call, no one-to-one meeting?"

F oreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he is deeply disappointed at the setback and concerned for Mr Halawa.

"I will continue to use every available opportunity to highlight Ireland's concerns with the Egyptian authorities," he said.

Mr Halawa is the son of prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin Sheikh Hussein Halawa.

Amnesty International Ireland said Egypt continues to ignore its obligations under domestic and international law and that technical reviews of video footage from Ramses Square found no evidence against him.

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