Ibrahim Halawa’s legal team says they have no access to him
Barrister Katie O’Byrne says Ibrahim Halawa is being held in ‘horrific conditions’
Ibrahim Halawa was arrested at a protest in Cairo, Egypt in 2013 after he and his siblings spoke on stage at a rally organised by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ibrahim Halawa’s legal team has said they have not been given access to their client.
Barrister Katie O’Byrne from Doughty Street Chambers in London told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland:
“We are instructed by his family, we have had some limited contact with him, but as his international legal team we have had no proper access to our client.
“The information that we can give is in some ways limited, however, we have very compelling evidence of the horrific conditions in which Ibrahim is held with other political prisoners in Egypt. ”
Mr Halawa was arrested at a protest in Cairo, Egypt in 2013 after he and his siblings spoke on stage at a rally organised by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ms O’Brien said that the details in the letter he managed to smuggle out are horrific, “he says the conditions are inhuman, he witnesses torture every day, he wakes up to the screams of prisoners and details various egregious breaches that are going on every day.”
She added that in terms of independent verification there is quite compelling evidence from other sources such as Australian journalist Peter Greste and the US citizen Mohamed Soltan, who were imprisoned in similar conditions.
“It is important to note that Ibrahim was arrested at a protest under the regime of an unelected government protesting at the over throwing of a democratically elected government.
“He was protesting in the name of democracy - there is a human right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression that is why Ibrahim has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
“The issue is whether he was exercising his right to peaceful protest or whether completely innocently he became embroiled in the violence that was going on in Cairo at that time.
“But that also this was a period in which Human Rights Watch over 1,100 people were killed by police and armed forces in five separate incidents of mass protest.
“We’ve been told that on June 29th there will be a verdict and sentence handed down for Ibrahim and the 493 other defendants with whom he is on trial.
“There has been no substantive trial process at all in Ibrahim’s case or for the other 494 cases.
“The case has been before the court 13 times and has been adjourned 13 times - to our knowledge there has been no substantive evidence heard, Ibrahim has not had proper access to a lawyer, no lawyer has been able to speak to the court on his behalf, to make a defence, not a shred of evidence has been presented by the Egyptian authorities and it is our belief that no evidence exists.
“This is a blatant breach of the right to a fair trial, not least because no trial has taken place before the verdict is handed down.”
Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, another member of Ibrahim Halawa’s legal team, Barrister Mark Wassouf said that Australian journalist Peter Greste was freed under Law 140 which is a Presidential decree that was passed in Eqypt in 2014.
“It gives discretion to repatriate a foreign defendant back to their country of origin - to either complete the judicial process or else serve out their sentence post conviction.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he had reviewed Law 140 and the presidential decree.
“I was disappointed that the application for bail which was supported by the Irish government was not successful.
“I believe that as soon as a verdict is handed down by the courts we will then have an opportunity of pursuing issues under the presidential decree and I intend to keep a very close on this case.
“As far as my department is concerned this case is a particular priority and shall remain so until Ibrahim is home with his family.”
Mark Wassouf says there are precedents, “we disagree with what Egyptians have told the Irish government, what they’re saying should not be accepted.
“The Irish government needs to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities, they have used Law 140 to send non nationals home. The express wording is to deport before sentencing. Irish government should not accept at face value what the Egyptians are saying.”
Later on the same programme Australian journalist Peter Greste said:
“Ibrahim is a young man denied due process, no evidence was presented in court of any wrongdoing, that he broke any law. The Irish authorities have a responsibility to argue and defend his rights. I believe, like us, it was a politically motivated case.
“He was swept up at a time when the authorites were taking people suspected of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. It seemed initially that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It might well be that this connections through his father have complicated things. The problem is we just don’t know.”