A mass trial in Egypt tomorrow (August 12) could see death sentences handed down to hundreds of prisoners, including an Irish teenager who was a juvenile at the time of his arrest.
Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen, was 17 when he was arrested last August along with his three older sisters, now released, after being caught up in protests in Cairo in the turmoil that followed the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. He has since been held in a series of adult prisons in the capital without charge or trial, in contravention of international law and the country’s own Child Laws.
The Egyptian authorities have refused to consider proof of Mr. Halawa’s age and nationality, provided by his family, lawyers, and consular officials, and instead insist he is an adult. Tomorrow’s mass trial, to be held in a makeshift court in the notorious Tora prison complex, will see him appearing alongside over 480 adults.
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In conversations with legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting him, Mr. Halawa’s family say he has reported torture during his detention; including being stripped, beaten with chains and whips, forced to drink from the toilet, and subject to racist taunts by guards for being Irish. He is reported to be permanently disfigured after being shot in the hand and denied medical treatment.
Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “That the Egyptian government has arrested and tortured children, in contravention of its own and international law, is horrifying enough; that it is now seeking to hand down summary death sentences for hundreds of prisoners at a time, including Ibrahim and other juveniles, is an utter disgrace. Other governments should take all steps necessary to prevent this travesty of justice and ensure no lives are lost in the process.”