President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told Irish PM Leo Varadkar in a phone call on Monday that he was keen on settling the case and guaranteeing the rights of Egyptian-Irish national Ibrahim Halawa, who is undertrial.
“Egypt wants this issue resolved according to constitutional and legal rules, after a final verdict is issued in the case,” Al-Sisi said in a statement, asserting the independence of the judicial authority and the necessity to respect the separation of powers.
“A spokesperson for the Taoiseach’s department said that Varadkar made it clear to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi that his priority was to secure Halawa’s return to Ireland as quick as possible,” the Irish website The Journal reported on Monday.
Arrested during a protest, Halawa was detained in August 2013 against the backdrop of a case currently under court examination publicly known as “Al-Fatah Mosque” case, which involves riots in support of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The riots took a violent turn and left dozens dead.
The defendants face charges of murder, illegal protests, attacking security personnel, torching public and private properties, and possessing arms.
Halawa was able to draw international attention to his case, in which he was supposed to hear a verdict on Monday, but the court decided to postpone it to 18 September, sparking concern among his family, hence Varadkar’s call. On 17 August, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney issued a statement of solidarity with Halawa on his “fourth anniversary in detention,” the ministry’s website said.
This is not the first time the case of a young imprisoned Islamist in Egypt takes such a turn. Like Halawa, Egyptian-US national Mohamed Soltan, son of a Muslim Brotherhood member Salah Soltan, was imprisoned between 2013 and 2015 before international pressures led to his release. The Egyptian-US national left to the US.
Both men have been reportedly ill-treated in jail and went on hunger strikes to make their plight.
In a more recent case, US President Donald Trump pressured Egypt to release American-Egyptian national Aya Hegazy and her husband, which the court acquitted her of charges.
Hegazy has been detained for over three years already and was reportedly taken to the US on a military jet upon her release.