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Egypt MPs reject Irish parliament resolution calling for release of Irish-Egyptian prisoner

Egyptian MPs rejected an Irish parliament resolution calling for the release of Egyptian-Irish prisoner and alleged Muslim Brotherhood member Ibrahim Halwa

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 8 Aug 2016
An archival for Egypt
Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal (Photo: Al Ahram)

Egyptian MPs said in a statement on Sunday that they fully reject a resolution issued by the Irish parliament demanding that Egyptian-Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa be immediately released from prison.

Halawa was detained as part of what came to be known as the "El-Fath Mosque clashes" in 2013, where security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi clashed during a siege on El-Fath Mosque in central Cairo.

Egypt parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al disclosed on Sunday that many MPs have asked him to issue a statement in response to the resolution passed by the Irish parliament on 8 July, which criticises Halawa’s continued detention without trial.

Halawa has been jailed for over three years along with 492 others over charges including murder and sabotage.

"This resolution directed criticism at the judicial authority and demanded that Halawa – an Irish citizen of Egyptian origin – be released at once," said Abdel-Al. 

"As you all know, the dimensions of the El-Fath Mosque case could be summarised as follows; the [Muslim Brotherhood] terrorist organisation to which Ibrahim Halawa is affiliated committed a number of criminal acts that are rejected by laws and traditions.”

Abdel-Al said that these criminal acts “range from desecrating God's places of worship and barring citizens from performing prayers in mosques, to premeditated murder, sabotaging public and private property, thuggery, arson, assaulting police, illegally possessing weapons, disrupting traffic, and endangering the lives of citizens."

"All of these acts are criminalised by Egypt's penal code, which imposes harsh penalties in this respect," said the statement. 

Abdel-Al also indicated that Halawa was one of many people referred to trial in the El-Fath Mosque case.

"They were questioned by investigative authorities and now it is only the judicial authority, which is headed by fair judges, that has the final say in terms of detention or custody," said the statement. 

Abdel-Al also indicated that the Egyptian constitution, which was approved by a vast majority in a referendum on 18 January 2014, states that the judicial authority is independent and that their rulings go in line with the law.

The statement said that "nobody can interfere with the affairs of justice or judicial cases and any interference will be considered a crime."

Abdel-Aal added that "Egypt's House of Representatives is not in a position to deal with the resolution issued by the Irish parliament, which calls for the release of [Halawa] and for allowing him to return to Ireland in the nearest time upon the grounds that he is an ‘opinion prisoner’."

"This [Irish parliament] resolution directs accusations and represents an aggression against the Egyptian judicial authority and interference in the course of justice," he said. 

However, Abdel-Al said that Egypt's parliament welcomes a constructive dialogue with the Irish parliament, and recommends an exchange of visits as part of the friendly relations between the two countries.

He said that such visits would be a good means for discussing issues of mutual interest and correcting positions on certain events in an atmosphere of mutual respect for judicial, legislative and executive authorities in the two countries.

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