Irishman Ibrahim Halawa found not guilty of criminal charges in Egypt after four-year detention

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted of all criminal charges he faced in EgyptFacebook/FreeIbrahimHalawa

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted of all criminal charges in Egypt after being held in detention for over four years.

Halawa was arrested in August 2013 at the age of 17 at a protest in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The protest at the al-Fath Mosque in Cairo escalated into violence and 97 protesters were killed.

The Irish-Egyptian citizen was arrested, along with his three sisters and more than 330 demonstrators, and charged with numerous counts of murder, arson and illegal possession of weapons. His sisters were released in November 2013.

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Human rights activists say that he was detained solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Halawa's case was delayed 28 times before his legal team was finally allowed to defend him in court in August 2017.

After spending more than four years in detention, he was found not guilty by an Egyptian criminal court on Monday (18 September).

His sister Somaia told Irish news outlet The Journal that the family was "delighted" at his acquittal.

"It's been a long four years and we can't believe that this has happened today. We hope he'll be released soon and home within a couple of days," she said.

Northern Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "On behalf of the government and on my own behalf I welcome the news from Cairo that Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted. This is the good news we had been hoping for. Ibrahim Halawa's name has been cleared and his innocence is confirmed. I look forward to him being released from custody without delay."

Najia Bounaim, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International, told IBTimes UK that the acquittal came as "a welcome relief" but that it was "long overdue."

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"Ibrahim Halawa's acquittal puts an end to the gross injustice in his case. However, it is utterly disgraceful that at the same time the Egyptian authorities have handed out heavy sentences to 442 others after sham proceedings in a mass trial that flouted the most basic standards of a fair trial, while security forces who used excessive and lethal force during protests that day have escaped unpunished," she said, calling for Egypt to release the other defendants.

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