Bel Trew, Cairo
Ibrahim Halawa, the young Dublin man who has been held without trial in Egypt since 2013, has described a catalogue of torture and mistreatment during his three years in jail.
In a letter, exclusively responding to questions from The Times, the 20-year-old from Firhouse said that he had seen fellow inmates “crucified” in hallways and hung from basketball hoops.
Mr Halawa, who was 17 when he was arrested, faces death by hanging on terrorism charges. He is accused alongside 493 people in a mass trial expected to conclude on June 29, according to the lawyer who has been allowed just one meeting with his client.
In the letter, smuggled out of Wadi Natrun prison north of Cairo, Mr Halawa described physical and sexual torture of inmates, who are forced to watch others being abused before they are assaulted.
“[I] wake up every morning to the screams of prisoners being tortured and the echo of the bar landing on their bodies,” Mr Halawa wrote. “I have been beaten with plastic plumbing bars, slapped, punched, kicked, and dragged.” He said that he had been subject to electric shocks and a method of torture known as “the sweeper”.
“You are made to lay on your stomach with a stick in the center of your back. Your arms and legs are dragged back and tied to the stick and they make a convict move the stick up and down,” Mr Halawa said.
In another “experimental” form of abuse, men are covered in honey and tied to trees so they are attacked by insects, he claimed.
“They torture another prisoner and they make you watch. They bury him in garbage and he isn’t allowed to move. [They] crucify men. They hold a man’s arm against the curb and you hear it break when they kick it,” he wrote.
He said that he had seen another man “hung from a basketball hoop by his handcuffs and beaten while hanging in the air. And a lot more.”
Photo: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA