Europe

Ibrahim Halawa examined by doctor after Irish request

Ibrahim Halawa
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa was 17 when he was imprisoned in 2013

The Irish government arranged for a doctor to visit Ibrahim Halawa in jail in Egypt following concerns about the health of the 21-year-old Dubliner.

He has staged a series of hunger strikes in protest at being imprisoned without trial for over three years.

Last month, his lawyer said he was so weak that jail staff used a wheelchair to take him to family visits.

On the doctor's recommendation, the Irish government called on Egypt to release him for further medical tests.

'Direct appeals'

Before the visit, Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister} Enda Kenny said he was "disturbed" by reports that Mr Halawa was using in a wheelchair and wanted his health to be assessed "from an Irish medical point of view".

In a statement on Monday, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the prison assessment took place last week, at his government's request.

"It has long been the government's stated desire to see Mr Halawa returned to Ireland and we have made direct appeals to the Egyptian government on a number of occasions," Mr Flanagan added.

He said that the after receiving the doctor's report, Mr Kenny wrote to the Egyptian president, asking for Mr Halawa's release to facilitate further tests.

'Unprecedented'

The foreign minster added that he discussed the case with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Abou El Gheit, on Monday.

"I also again raised the case with the EU's High Representative, Vice President Federica Mogherini, who has taken a personal interest in the case," Mr Flanagan added.

He said case was continuing to receive "unprecedented attention and resources" in Dublin and in Cairo.

However, the Halawa family have said that the Irish government must do more and have previously called on Mr Kenny to bring international legal action against the Egyptian government.

Mr Halawa is the son of the most senior Muslim cleric in the Republic of Ireland.

He was 17 when he was arrested with three of his sisters during a siege at the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in 2013.

The women were released after three months, but their younger brother remained in jail and his court case has been adjourned 20 times.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa was arrested along with his sisters Fatima, Omaima and Somaia

For several years, Mr Halawa was told he would face the death penalty if he was convicted at a mass trial.

However, in January the Egyptian president told a delegation of Irish politicians that he will offer a pardon Mr Halawa once his trial is over.

The Egyptian parliament has previously objected to calls from the Irish parliament to release the Dubliner, saying the request would interfere in the affairs of the Egyptian judiciary.

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