Northern Ireland

Ibrahim Halawa: Call for release of Irishman held in Egypt on third anniversary of arrest

Ibrahim Halawa Image copyright Halawa family
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa was 17 when he was arrested during a siege on a mosque in Cairo in 2013

A group of British lawyers have called for the release of an Irishman who has been held in an Egyptian prison for three years without trial.

Ibrahim Halawa, the son of the most senior Muslim cleric in the Republic of Ireland, was arrested during a siege on the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in 2013.

Last month, the Irish government said it was concerned after the Dubliner's trial was adjourned for the 14th time.

Wednesday marks the third anniversary of Mr Halawa's arrest.

Now the Bar Human Rights Committee has said he should be returned to Ireland.

Mr Halawa and almost 500 other people have been charged with murder and a range of other serious offences.

Breach

The 20-year-old could face a death penalty if he is convicted.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, the chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, said Egypt's treatment of him "constitutes a serious breach of international law".

Image caption A man trial involving Mr Halawa and almost 500 other people has been adjourned 14 times

She added: "He has been subjected to several years of pre-trial detention, violently assaulted by the Egyptian police and denied access to a lawyer or a fair trial.

"During part of this period, Mr Halawa was a child.

"[His] urgent release is required."

Violence

The Egyptian government has rejected claims by the United Nations of ill-treatment of Mr Halawa during his time in prison.

Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested along with three of his sisters in the Egyptian capital.

They said they were on holiday at the time and sought refuge in the Al-Fath mosque to escape from violence outside.

The sisters were later released on bail, but the family has had to deny claims that Mr Halawa is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and largest Islamist organisation.

The Eyptian government has declared it a terrorist group, a claim that the organisation rejects.

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