Belfast Telegraph

Jailed Irishman Ibrahim Halawa urged to end hunger strike

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has pleaded with jailed Irishman Ibrahim Halawa to come off hunger strike.

Amid reports of his deteriorating condition, the Government warned Egyptian authorities that they have a clear responsibility to ensure the 21-year-old's welfare while he is held in prison without trial.

Mr Halawa's trial along with hundreds of others was adjourned for a 20th time in Cairo as Irish officials seek permission to send in their own doctor to assess the young man's health.

He has been in jail for 1,313 days.

Mr Flanagan said he wanted assurances for Egypt that he was getting adequate medical treatment.

"I am, at the same time, concerned at persistent reports that Ibrahim is on hunger strike," he said.

"I urge him in the strongest possible terms not to pursue such a course of action, and to protect his health in every possible way. I also urge all parties who are in contact with him or who have influence with him to dissuade him from any actions that would be detrimental to his health."

Mr Halawa. the son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin Sheikh Hussein Halawa, was imprisoned after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood protested over the removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

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.

Ireland's ambassador to the region Damien Cole and other embassy staff were in court for the latest hearing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said a number of witnesses were called and cross-examined, petitions from defence lawyers considered and judges asked for Mr Halawa to get further medical examinations.

Mr Flanagan said: "I am disappointed and frustrated by a further adjournment in the court case in which Ibrahim Halawa is a defendant.

"Ibrahim has now spent more than thirteen hundred days and nights in an Egyptian prison cell without having been convicted of any crime. This is a source of great concern to the Irish Government."

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.

Mr Halawa's lawyers said a request made at the hearing for his release on humanitarian grounds was refused.

The family called on the Government to urgently consider taking legal proceedings against the Egyptian state at the International Court of Justice.

Mr Halawa's sister Somaia said: "The sad reality is my brother is dying in an Egyptian prison, facing a mass trial which, at this rate, will take over 10 years.

"Given Ibrahim's current mental and physical state we don't believe he will be strong enough to survive that delay.

"We have tried every option to secure Ibrahim's release to no avail. There is no other alternative. The flawed trial process and conditions to which Ibrahim has been detained can no longer be accepted."

Ms Halawa said the Irish Government has not taken all the steps it can.

"There remains one step that has been ignored, the right to take court proceedings as a state against the Egyptian state," she said.

Darragh Mackin, solicitor with the Belfast-based KRW Law for the Halawas, said: "It is now a time for a line to be drawn in the sand, and action to be taken by the Irish Government against the Egyptian state for what are flagrant breaches of international law."


From Belfast Telegraph