Irish teen held in Egypt fears he will die before trial ends
March 30, 2015
An Irish teen awaiting trial in Egypt is sharing a cell with death-row prisoners in one of the country’s worst prisons, and fears he may die there before his trial concludes, his family has said.
Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 and on holiday when he was arrested in August 2013 during the military’s breakup of protests. He faces a death sentence if convicted alongside 493 other people on nearly identical charges. The controversial ‘mass trial’, which includes several other juveniles alongside Mr Halawa, was yesterday postponed for the fifth time in seven months.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Halawa is being held alongside prisoners who have been condemned to death at Wadi Natrun prison. The mass trial proceedings were moved to the prison days ago, after repeated attempts by the authorities to fit the defendants into a courtroom at Cairo’s Tora prison. Wadi Natrun has been called one of Egypt’s worst prisons. It is typically used to house prisoners condemned to death, and to carry out hangings.
Speaking very briefly with his family before Sunday’s hearing, Mr Halawa said he was being mistreated and denied food in the prison, and that he believed he was going to die there.
Yesterday’s mass trial is part of a continued crackdown by the government of Abdel Fattah el Sisi since 2013, when he took power. The UK has told Reprieve that it is “monitoring” Mr Halawa’s trial, and that the Foreign Office has asked the Egyptian authorities “to ensure that all trials are conducted in line with international standards.”
Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:
“This mass trial was always a mockery of justice – but the Egyptian authorities have now stooped to a new low. Moving a terrified teenager and hundreds of others to death row before they have even mounted a defence shows this government’s contempt for the rule of law. Countries such as Ireland and the UK must demand that these Kafkaesque abuses are halted now, before any lives are lost.”
Notes to editors
1. For more information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 207 553 8160
2. Reprieve’s correspondence with the UK on the mass trial is available on request.
3. Detail on conditions at Wadi Natrun prison can be found in this article.