Egypt's Sisi discusses status of jailed dual citizen Halawa with Irish delegation

Ahram Online , Wednesday 11 Jan 2017

Ibrahim Halawa is standing trial over 2013 violence charges; Egyptian president said that constitutionally no one can interfere in the judiciary's work except after final verdicts are issued

Sisi/Irish delegation
President Sisi with the Iris delegation on 11 January 2016 (Photo: Ahram)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi met with an Irish Parliamentary delegation in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the case of Irish-Egyptian prisoner Ibrahim Halawa among a number of other issues, state news agency MENA reported quoting a presidential statement.

Halawa, who was arrested in August 2013 during clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at the Fateh Mosque in Cairo's Ramsis, is standing trial with 493 others on charges ranging from attacking security forces, vandalizing public buildings, attempted murder, to murder.

"Egypt is working to consolidate the rule of law and respect the principle of separation of powers, stressing that, constitutionally, no one can interfere in the judiciary's work except after final verdicts are issued," El-Sisi said about Halawa's case. 

On their part, the Irish delegation said they fully respect the rule of law in Egypt and the independence of the Egyptian judiciary.

The MPs also thanked the Egyptian authorities for allowing them to meet Halawa in prison and for allowing the Irish Embassy in Cairo to check on his health conditions and his treatment.

The Irish delegation, headed by the Irish Parliament Speaker Ceann Comhairle, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday on a five-day visit.

During the meeting, the Egyptian president hailed the "special" bilateral relations with Ireland, while the Irish MPs praised Egypt "for the work accomplished for its democratic transition, restoring stability and undertaking steps for economic reform."

The meeting also tackled means to bolster bilateral cooperation in the number of field; particularly the development of agricultural techniques and increase cattle production as well as explore business and trade opportunities between the two countries. 

The delegation visit comes after the Irish parliament last July asked Egypt to release Halawa.

However, the request was rejected by Egypt.

In December 2015, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for Halawa's release. The request, rejected by Egypt, was described by Cairo as "a violation" against the independence of the Egyptian judiciary and the country's sovereignty.

Halawa, who is now 21, is not the only dual national currently jailed in Egyptian prisons.

American-Egyptian Aya Hegazy, 29, and her husband are also facing trial on criminal charges.

In September 2015, Canadian-Egyptian Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was arrested and charged in 2013 with spreading false news, recieved presidential pardon following a final verdict in his case a month before.

In February 2015, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation in accordance with a December 2014 presidential decree that allows state authorities to deport convicted foreigners. He later regained his Egyptian citizenship after filing a lawsuit. 

The European parliament cited the 2014 decree when calling for the release of Halawa in December 2015.

Halawa was arrested with his three sisters, but the three were released shortly after.

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