Tag Archives: release

Egypt to release Queens native


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

Photo by Nargas Karimi Daniel Grapel, Ilan's father, answered media inquiries outside his Oakland Gardens home.

The Prime Minister of Israel announced that Ilan Grapel, the Queens native and law student arrested during the Egyptian uprisings in June, will be released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners, according to Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office.

Grapel had been a member of the Israeli military serving as a paratrooper and was injured in southern Lebanon in August 2006. After returning home, he began attending Emory Law School in Georgia and travelled to Egypt as part of a project involving African refugees. Ilan arrived early in an effort to experience the country when he was arrested in June accused of being an officer of the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Service, despite records of entering the country with a legitimate passport and posting pictures of himself on Facebook during the uprisings that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.

“Ilan’s release is terrific news,” said Ackerman. “We cannot be more relieved and gratified that Ilan will finally be freed and that he will soon be reunited with his family.”

Grapel, 27, worked with Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, as in intern in the summer of 2002.

“Ilan is a wonderful young man who loves Egypt and the Egyptian culture. He’s a person deeply committed to the cause of humanity and bringing people together, and just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Ackerman.

“I still reserve my emotional opinion because we have to wait until he actually crosses the line, before that nothing is 100 percent guaranteed until it actually happens,” said Daniel Grapel, Ilan’s father.

Details surrounding the timing of Grapel’s release have yet to be released.

Vigil held for Barbara Sheehan


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Vigil

Howard Beach residents have sent a clear message to Barbara Sheehan – “you are not alone.”

Over 100 people attended a vigil held at Ave Maria Catholic Academy, located at 158-20 101st Street, on Sunday, October 16 to express support for their neighbor. Barbara is currently in prison awaiting sentencing after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, on the morning of February 18, 2008.

The overwhelming opinion among the crowd was that Barbara and her family had suffered enough at the hands of Raymond and that they deserve to be reunited.

“I don’t think she should be in jail; not at all,” said Christine Otoole, a friend of Barbara’s. “The poor woman was abused for 18 years. It’s very easy for someone to say that she should’ve reported it, but not easy to do when you fear for your life. I’ve never been abused but I can just imagine what the poor woman went through. I’m married to a police officer and he never has his gun out. So why was [Raymond’s] gun out? That guy was obviously a psychopath.”

Deacon Alex Breviario of Our Lady of Grace spoke at the vigil, preaching faith and cooperation.

“Our rule is not to judge, but to support others in their time of need. That’s why we are here tonight for Barbara and her family,” said Breviario.

Barbara, who faced 25 years to life in prison before being found not guilty of murder, could serve between two-and-a-quarter to 15 years behind bars depending on sentencing. Although the usual minimum sentence for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is three-and-a-half years, Barbara faces a reduced minimum sentence of two-and-a-quarter years due to the domestic abuse she suffered.

The 50-year-old mother of two surrendered to authorities on October 12, but her attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, says an appeal of the conviction is imminent.

MacGiollabhui has submitted an application to the appellate division to allow Barbara to remain on bail pending her sentencing and the results of the appeal. As of press time, Justice Barry Kron had yet to make a decision regarding bail.

Members of the Sheehan family also attended the vigil and expressed gratitude for the encouragement provided to Barbara.

“I just want to thank everybody for their support during the last three-and-a-half years for what we’ve been going through, since everybody was there for us,” said Michael Henry, Barbara’s father. “We appreciate it and we love every single one of you.”

— Additional reporting by Nargas Karimi