Irish student Halawa freed after 4 years in Egypt jail

A riot police officer stands guard in front of an appeals court in Cairo, in this January 1, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Irish student Halawa freed after 4 years in Egypt jail

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have released high-profile Irish detainee Ibrahim Halawa following his acquittal last month of charges including murder, in a four-year mass trial criticized by human rights groups.
Halawa, a student, and three of his sisters were charged along with nearly 500 others with a host of crimes including breaking into a mosque, killing 44 people, and illegal possession of firearms in violence that followed the military’s overthrow of Egypt’s President, Mohammed Mursi, in 2013.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Friday that Halawa was likely to be able to fly home by Monday following his release late on Thursday.
“This is a great moment for Ibrahim and his family — a moment for celebration, and a moment for savoring freedom, and I want to wish Ibrahim Halawa and his family all health and happiness for the future,” Coveney said in a separate statement.
Egyptian rights activists say they have faced the worst crackdown in their history under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was elected president in 2014, a year after as armed forces commander he led the military’s toppling of Mursi.
Halawa was 17 when he was arrested in 2013 with hundreds of others as part of the crackdown on protests. Since then he had been held in pre-trial detention, where he said he was regularly tortured.
The defendants in the case had all faced the death penalty but none received it, though hundreds were given sometimes hefty jail sentences.
Rights groups welcomed Halawa’s release.
“After four years of unjust detention, today Ibrahim Halawa finally walks free. He should never have been jailed in the first place and it is utterly outrageous that he was forced to spend a single minute of his young life behind bars,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns director at Amnesty International.
Reuters was not immediately able to reach Halawa’s family for comment on Friday, but his sister Fatima told RTE in a radio interview: “It’s beyond description ... It’s amazing to finally know that Ibrahim is out and he’s released and he’s safe.”


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait slam UN for human rights report on Yemen

Updated 1 min 35 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait slam UN for human rights report on Yemen

  • Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN said that the report was “deeply flawed”
  • Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN also said the report has come away from “objectivity and characterized by haste”

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Wednesday slammed a report prepared by United Nations experts over alleged human rights violations in Yemen.

Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN, Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim told the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council that the report was “deeply flawed.”

“[The report] seems to hurl false accusations at the Saudi-led Coalition,” Al-Ghunaim said.

He said the UN experts singled out the coalition of Arab states fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia as accountable for the human rights violations in the war-torn country.

“The Arab Coalition never ceased to cooperate with the UN specialists in Yemen to ensure that civilian casualties are averted,” he said.

The Kuwaiti diplomat went on to give the Arab coalition credit for their “efforts to restore normalcy and hope to the lives of the Yemeni people.”

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Abdulaziz Al-Waselthe, also said the report has come away from “objectivity and characterized by haste” in drawing conclusions and came full of errors in its approach and contents.

In a speech to the Human Rights Council, A-Waselthe said that the report ignored the information provided to the group of experts by the concerning agencies in the Arab Coalition.

The Kuwaiti envoy condemned the Houthis’ acts of aggression that violates international humanitarian laws.