Ibrahim Halawa acquitted in Egypt - safe return 'imperative'

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Halawa, along with his sisters, was arrested at the siege of Al-Fath mosque in 2013 after mourners gathered and protested against the massacre in Rabaa by Egyptian authorities.

After spending more than four years in detention, he was found not guilty by an Egyptian criminal court on Monday (18 September).

When the military stormed the mosque, Mr Halawa was among those taken away, along with his sisters Somaia, Omaima and Fatima.

It is now hoped that the commitment secured by the Irish Government from the Egyptian president that he will return Ibrahim to Ireland after his trial ends will be upheld.

In the summer of 2013, the then 17-year-old Ibrahim Halawa accompanied three of his elder sisters on a family holiday to Egypt.

"Ibrahim was arrested as a child for the "crime" of attending a protest, tortured, and tried facing the death penalty alongside adults in an unfair mass trial", said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve.

However, with so many defendants involved in the case, it took years to come to court.

"So I feel sorry for these people as well that they have to still suffer all that suffering that we suffered for four years".

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In the months that followed, there was a crackdown on the former president's supporters, and on the Muslim Brotherhood group to which he belongs, which Egypt later declared a "terrorist organisation". Their innocence has been confirmed.

Higgins has released a statement welcoming Halawa's release from his "distressing and draining experience".

Amnesty had long stressed that there was no evidence that Halawa had been involved in any violence at the al-Fath protests, and Amnesty believes he was detained exclusively for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

He added that his incarceration had taught him to find humanity in everyone and disregard revenge. Many feared that he would be "judged" in botched mass trails along with other protesters, [3] where many have been sentenced to death.[4] His court case for a mass trail had been adjourned 20 times in the past.

At one point in March this year, he became so weak that jail staff used a wheelchair to bring him to a family prison visit.

The Dubliner had been imprisoned in Egypt for over four years and while a verdict in his trial was expected last month, it was announced on August 28 that it would be postponed for another three weeks. I look forward to him being released from custody without delay. Irish officials arrange for a physician to visit Halawa in jail, who recommends that he should be released to allow for medical tests.

The trial finally got under way in August.

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