Irish Government sent doctor to imprisoned Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt amidst 'grave' health concerns

Irish Government sent doctor to imprisoned Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt amidst 'grave' health concerns

THE Irish Government has sent a doctor to Egypt to assess Ibrahim Halawa's medical condition amidst grave health concerns, it has been revealed. 

Dublin-born Mr Halawa, 21, has been in the prison since the summer of 2013, when he visited family in Egypt with his sisters Somaia, Fatima and Omaima.

At the time, the north African country was in a state of unrest and the siblings took refuge in a Mosque in Cairo when Ibrahim, then aged 17, was arrested alongside his sisters.

While the women were released from prison in November 2013, Mr Halawa remains imprisoned almost four years later.

In late December 2016, Ibrahim Halawa began a hunger strike, which he vows to maintain until he is freed. 

Last week, Mr Halawa had lost consciousness and was taken to an Egyptian clinic, where he is now in a very serious condition, his family said.

Addressing the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government made the decision to send an Irish doctor to carry out a medical assessment on Mr Halawa.

"The Government arranged for an Irish doctor nominated by the chief medical officer to go to Cairo last week," Mr Kenny said. "He participated in a consular visit to Ibrahim Halawa at the Wadi el-Natrun prison on March 29 with the Ambassador."

Ibrahim Halawa in a photograph taken whilst in prison. (Picture: Somaia Halawa)

Mr Kenny said the Irish doctor had met Mr Halawa for an hour and a half, where the doctor observed a medical examination of Mr Halawa by an Egyptian doctor.

"It is not appropriate for me or any other Government spokesperson to reveal or comment on the details of Ibrahim Halawa's health condition," Mr Kenny said.

"However, I can say the Irish doctor, who is a GP, recommended that specialist medical evaluations take place and that Ibrahim Halawa be returned to Ireland for such assessments and on humanitarian grounds."

Mr Kenny also said the Egyptian authorities were "more than willing" to assist on this matter and he had sent an urgent letter to President el-Sisi to release Mr Halawa on humanitarian grounds.

"The Egyptian President has been quite clear and very consistent all along that he can only use his presidential powers of pardon after a court case has actually taken place," Mr Kenny said.

Ibrahim Halawa is being prosecuted alongside 494 co-defendants in a mass trial for his alleged participation in the political protests in 2013.

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O'Brien, who was part of the Irish political delegation who visited Ibrahim Halawa in January, said: "I call on the Government to send the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Egypt on a humanitarian basis to seek his release.

"Our understanding from the independent medical examination is that his health has deteriorated gravely."

In a statement his family said: "Every day that passes will effect Ibrahim's health negatively especially that he is currently surrounded with contagious diseases.

"Ibrahim must be immediately released and brought home before any regrets happens.

"We urge all this in power to interfere and bring our brother home after three and a half years of injustice."

Previously, Ibrahim Halawa's trial had been delayed 20 times, however after a hearing today in which 11 witnesses testified, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said: "There is now a clear sense that a trial is underway.

"This is important due to the commitment by President El Sisi to assist when the case concludes.

“Today Ibrahim Halawa’s lawyers requested his release on medical ground and the Judge undertook to consider that application.

“The Government will continue with its efforts to have Ibrahim Halawa returned to Ireland on humanitarian grounds without delay.

"In the meantime, my officials in Cairo and in Dublin will continue to provide all possible consular assistance.”