Family of Ibrahim Halawa disappointed he was not pardoned with students

Egyptian president al-Sisi pardons 82 prisoners but Irish man (20) not among them

 Ibrihim Halawa before his detention: he and 493 others have been put on mass trial on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty

Ibrihim Halawa before his detention: he and 493 others have been put on mass trial on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty

 

The family of Ibrahim Halawa has expressed its disappointment that he is not among 82 people, mostly university students, who have been pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Mr Halawa (20), from Firhouse, Dublin, was arrested in August 2013 at the Fateh mosque in Cairo during protests against the ousting of then-president Mohamed Morsi.

He and 493 others have been put on mass trial on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty. About 80 of the defendants have been tried in absentia.

Ibrahim’s sister, Somaia, said that her brother was not among those released and called on the Irish Government to again press president al-Sisi to issue a pardon.

More could be released

She said the Egyptian president had in the past said he could not interfere with the judicial process, but more recently said he would set up a commission to look into the cases of people who had not been convicted and were missing out on their college education. It has been reported in Egypt that a further 200 people may be released shortly.

Ibrahim’s mother, Amina, met her son on Tuesday, Somaia said, and was told he had heard that people were being released, and that members of the group arrested at the same time he was, were among those applying for pardons. “It gives him a little hope.”

She said her brother had not been released because not enough pressure was being put on the Egyptian authorities.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the embassy in Cairo said Ibrahim was not among the prisoners pardoned by president al-Sisi. “We are examining the basis for the pardons and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have been in touch with Mr Halawa’s Irish-based lawyers today. The Irish Government is continuing in our determined and sustained efforts to see Ibrahim returned to Ireland.”

Crackdown

Thursday’s pardons were the first phase of a wider effort, according to the Egyptian state news agency, Mena. Mr Sisi does not have the authority to interfere in Egypt’s judiciary but can issue pardons.

One person released was Islam al-Beheiry, a TV presenter and Islamic researcher serving a one-year sentence on blasphemy charges since December last year after he criticised orthodox preachers.

Since seizing power in mid-2013 and ending Muslim Brotherhood rule, Mr al-Sisi has presided over a crackdown on his Islamist opponents that has seen hundreds killed and many thousands jailed.

But the dragnet has since widened to include secular and liberal activists at the forefront of the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.