Irish citizen Ebraheem Halawa awaits hearing in Egypt
Family believes his fate hinges on judge assigned to case
Ebraheem Halawa with sisters Fatima, Omaima and Soumaia. Soumaia Halawa said the news that an Egyptian court had sentenced to death 529 people in a mass trial was worrying. Photograph: PA
Irish citizen Ebraheem Halawa is still waiting to have his case heard, more than seven months after he was detained in Cairo following clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and security forces.
The 18-year-old student was with three of his sisters, Omaima, Fatima and Soumaia, when they took refuge in Cairo’s Al Fateh mosque during clashes. The three women spent almost four months in detention before being released in November but he remains in detention.
Soumaia Halawa said the news that an Egyptian court had sentenced to death 529 supporters of Morsi in a mass trial was worrying, particularly as their lawyers were not listened to in court.
“We try our best with human rights groups like Amnesty but at the end of the day, it’s going to depend on who is his judge,” she said.
She heard of one case yesterday where a student was sentenced to 14 years for being involved in a protest while other similar cases were getting between two and three years.
She said her young brother was keeping his spirits up but the delay in having his case heard was affecting him.
“It’s really getting into him now. At least if there was a hearing he would know but it’s not clear. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s just waiting,” she said.
“There is a hearing that should be scheduled any day now but we don’t know the day or the date. We are still waiting for that. It shouldn’t take that long. My mum and my older sister are over there. They see him once a week, or sometimes twice a week. It depends,” she said.
‘Conditions are so hard ’
Prison conditions had improved since he was first held but they were still much worse than in Irish prisons. “Conditions are so hard. At the start they were treated really bad. They [prison officers] used to hit them,” she said. “But then parents started to make complaints about it. It hasn’t got worse so that’s something good,” she said.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it continued to offer consular assistance to Mr Halawa and his family. His father is Sheikh Hussein Halawa, imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh.