Tony Blair urged to help Irish teen facing death penalty in Egypt

Mass trial has been described as 'mockery of a court process'

Senior Reporter

Tony Blair has been urged to intervene in the case of an Irish teenager who has been imprisoned without trial in Egypt for a year and is now facing the death penalty in a mass trial, which has been described as a “mockery of a court process”.

Ibrahim Halawa, 18, from Firhouse, a suburb of Dublin, was arrested in August 2013 along with his three sisters after they were caught up in a military siege of a mosque in Cairo while his family was on holiday in the country.

The siblings were attending a protest in response to the killing of demonstrators at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque a few days earlier.

When Mr Halawa was detained he was only 17 and technically a juvenile, but his supporters say that he has been held illegally in a series of adult prisons in the Egyptian capital.

In a letter from one of the jails, he said that he had been forced to drink toilet water and had been stripped naked and beaten by prison guards, who have refused to tell him what charges he faces.

He appeared in court last Tuesday where he is to be tried as an adult along with 480 other prisoners in a controversial mass trial.

However, the proceedings were immediately postponed after the judge walked out of the courtroom before any evidence was heard.

The charity Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty, has written to Mr Blair, urging the former Prime Minister to use his influence with the Egyptian government to help Mr Halawa.

Mr Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, is currently acting as an informal adviser to the country’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was voted into power last May, on economic reform.

In its letter to Mr Blair, seen by The Independent, the director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, Maya Foa, asks him to ensure that Mr Halawa is not subjected to an illegal trial “given your interest in the region and your ties to the Egyptian administration”.

Ms Foa said on Sunday: “Ibrahim Halawa has spent a year of his young life detained without charge, horribly abused, and now subject to a mockery of a court process that could spell the death penalty for him and hundreds of others. Tony Blair should be using his obvious influence with Egypt’s leadership to secure both Ibrahim’s release and an end to these illegal mass trials.”

Mr Halawa’s sisters were all released shortly after being arrested and had to leave their brother behind.

Somaia Halawa, 29, who is now back in Dublin where she is about to begin a Master’s degree, said her family was being “destroyed” by Mr Halawa’s continued imprisonment. “It feels like I’m in a coma, like all this is not real,” she said.

Asked what she would like to say to Mr Blair, she replied: “Put yourself in my family’s situation, my dad’s situation. If this was your son, what action would you be taking? My brother hasn’t committed any crime.

“I hope that [Mr Blair] does the best he can to try to get my brother home to Ireland. It’s been a year now and he’s had enough; 12 months have been taken from his life already.”

It is understood that Mr Blair has received the letter but a spokeswoman for him declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'