Halawa siblings’ case expected before prosecutor in Cairo

Tánaiste expresses concern at reports of Egyptian inquiry into four unnamed Irish

Ebraheem Halawa and his  sisters Fatima, Omaima and Soumaia have been in custody since they were rounded up with scores of others after a stand-off at Cairo’s al-Fath mosque earlier this month. Photograph: PA

Ebraheem Halawa and his sisters Fatima, Omaima and Soumaia have been in custody since they were rounded up with scores of others after a stand-off at Cairo’s al-Fath mosque earlier this month. Photograph: PA

 


The case of four Irish citizens detained during unrest in Cairo is expected to come before a prosecutor later this week.

Omaima (21), Fatima (23), Soumaia (27) and their 17-year-old brother Ebraheem Halawa have been in custody since they were rounded up with scores of others, including several journalists, after a stand-off between security forces and supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi at Cairo’s al-Fath mosque earlier this month.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has expressed concern about Egyptian media reports last week that four Irish citizens – believed to be the Halawa siblings – are among nine foreign nationals being investigated for charges including attempted murder, possessing firearms and belonging to a militant group.


Hampered
Irish officials have not yet been able to confirm the reports that four Irish nationals are among those remanded in custody for 15 days by a Cairo prosecutor pending investigations into violence that erupted around al-Fath mosque.

The other foreigners detained include a Canadian doctor, a Canadian film-maker and a Turkish television journalist. Efforts to clarify the legal status of the Halawa siblings have been hampered by the closure of Egyptian administrative offices during a three-day period of mourning announced last week to mark the deaths of security forces personnel killed by militants in the Sinai region.

Sources in Cairo said the case is expected to come before the prosecutor on Thursday.

The Halawas, who were separated in recent days, were visited over the weekend by their mother and a representative from the Irish embassy in Cairo. Ebraheem Halawa is being held in a military camp outside Cairo and his sisters have been sent to a women’s prison.

Access
The weekend visit was the first time the siblings’ mother has been allowed access to them. Their lawyer has not yet been granted access to his clients.

All four are said to be in good spirits. Ebraheem has received treatment for an injury to his hand. It is understood the wound was caused by birdshot fired by security forces as they attempted to break up a pro-Morsi protest the teenager was attending.

The siblings were visiting relatives in Egypt when they decided to take part in protests against the military overthrow last month of Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president. All four travelled to Egypt on Irish passports.

They had joined demonstrations near al-Fath mosque and sought shelter there after clashes broke out.