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  • Southside

Ibrahim’s joy as the long-awaited ‘day the torture ended’ finally arrives

Monday, 25th September, 2017 6:00pm
Ibrahim’s joy as the long-awaited ‘day the torture ended’ finally arrives

Ibrahim was just 17-years-of-age when he was detained in Cairo.

Ibrahim’s joy as the long-awaited ‘day the torture ended’ finally arrives

Ibrahim was just 17-years-of-age when he was detained in Cairo.

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A RELIEVED Ibrahim Halawa spoke of the day "the torture ended" as he was acquitted of all charges in an Egyptian court last week.

The Firhouse man had spent four years in jail after being arrested in August 2013 by Egyptian security forces.

Ibrahim was just 17-years-of-age when he was detained along with his older sisters Somaia, Fatima and Omaima as they took part in a protest in Cairo against the removal of the country’s president Mohamed Morsi the previous month.

In November of that year Somaia, Fatima and Omaima Halawa returned to Ireland after being released from custody in Egypt.

But Egyptian authorities refused to sanction the release of Ibrahim, who was detained at the low-security Al Marg prison in Cairo.

There then followed a long battle to secure his freedom as he faced charges including murder, arson and illegal possession of weapons.

However, his trial was  repeatedly postponed in the subsequent years.

In January of this year, a delegation of eight TDs visited the Wadi el Natrun prison where Halawa was now being held to advance the case for his release during meetings with Egyptian authorities.

Finaly, on September 18 – 1,497 days after being arrested, Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges.

Last week, he posted a message on Facebook thanking all those who had fought for his freedom.

“For so long, a moment I have waited for,” he wrote. “A painful journey that I never thought would end but every time I lost hope god would send me saviours.

“If I did not have a family as beautiful as mine or Lynn Boylan who believed in me from the very start or my lawyer Darragh or the amazing Irish people who stood behind me in this very hard time and my friends and the Irish Government and all around the world the people who helped...

“And Amnesty International, Reprieve and all the human rights organisations.

“Thank you all so much for believing in me and never giving up. I had never stopped believing in my innocence and I was convinced because I helped people in need I will be helped.

“Today is the day all the torture, the suffering, the pain, the tears and the struggle has finally come to an end.”

He added: “Finally, this has all become a painful memory and I am so glad this is over. No words can describe freedom. Freedom can only be felt.

“Thank you, god, for everything. I'm coming home ... I'm coming home.”

The news was greeted with joy by his family who said there was a long list of people they were grateful to.

His sister Somaia added that her family were heartened to receive a personal call from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the Sunday night after the news arrived from Ciaro.

Nusayba Halawa, another of Ibrahim's sisters, said: "We couldn't believe it... after all that suffering it's nearly coming to the end.

"We weren't expecting it," she added. "We just heard the news a few minutes ago but we hope he is going to be soon.

“When he is released, we hope he is going to be home very soon. I think that he has suffered a lot. I hope that he will be home soon.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, stated: “I wholeheartedly welcome this conclusion to what has been an extraordinarily protracted case.

“Now that Ibrahim has been cleared of all charges, I expect he will be released as soon as possible and can return home to his family.”

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, stated: “As President of Ireland I welcome the news that Ibrahim Halawa and his three sisters have today been acquitted of all charges brought against him, and them, in what has been a prolonged, distressing and draining experience. 

“Today’s decision brings to an end a long ordeal that Ibrahim, his family, friends and legal team have been put through. 

“I am sure Ibrahim’s family are looking forward to the moment that Ibrahim will return home to them and to his loved ones.”

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, also welcomed the acquittal.

“I am delighted for Ibrahim, his family and all those who have supported him through this long and painful process,” Minister Ross said.

“After four years Ibrahim, and his sisters Somaia, Fatima and Omaima have been acquitted and their struggle against an often-incomprehensible legal system has finally come to a close.”

Deputy Seán Crowe (FF) said Ibrahim had been “unlawfully and unjustly incarcerated” in atrocious conditions in Egypt for four years.

“He was 17 when he was arrested and his trial was agonisingly postponed and delayed for years,” Deputy Crowe said.

“He has finally been cleared of all these charges, which I and many others had repeatedly stated were unsubstantiated.”

Ibrahim pictured 1,497 days after his arrest.

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