Politicians condemn further delay in Ibrahim Halawa trial

Government called on to reconsider its strategy to address ‘endless delay’

Ibrahim Halawa: arrested by the Egyptian army as he took refuge in a Cairo mosque while Muslim Brotherhood protesters staged a “day of rage” in August 2013

Ibrahim Halawa: arrested by the Egyptian army as he took refuge in a Cairo mosque while Muslim Brotherhood protesters staged a “day of rage” in August 2013

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has expressed his “deep concern” after Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa’s trial in Egypt was adjourned for the 13th time. Mr Halawa (20), who has been given a new trial date of June 26th, was arrested by the Egyptian army as he took refuge in a Cairo mosque while Muslim Brotherhood protesters staged a “day of rage” in August 2013.

His lawyers described the latest adjournment as “horrific news” and called on the Government to reconsider its strategy to address the “endless delay”. “When there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, the Egyptian criminal process extends the tunnel,” said Darragh Mackin of Kevin R Winters Law in Belfast.

He said the time for the use of diplomatic “back-channels” by the Government was past and it should work from the accepted legal position that Mr Halawa was being arbitrarily detained.

Mr Flanagan said he shared the deep disappointment felt by the Halawa family at the constant adjournments in the case. Ireland’s ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, was in the court for yesterday’s hearing and spoke with members of the family after the adjournment.

“I want to reassure Ibrahim’s family of my own and the Government’s continued commitment to achieving our two objectives: to secure his return to Ireland as soon as possible and to ensure his welfare during his detention. Officials from my Department will continue to work closely with Mr Halawa’s Egyptian legal team in support of our consular objectives.”

Fianna Fáil and the Green Party condemned the latest postponement of the trial.Fianna Fáil spokesman for foreign affairs Brendan Smith said it was unacceptable that an Irish citizen, aged just 17 years old when taken into custody, was being denied a fair trial.

“The Government needs to step up its efforts with the utmost urgency to secure the release of Ibrahim as it is evident he is not being afforded a fair trial,” he said.

Amnesty International said Mr Halawa was a prisoner of conscience who had been living in “truly horrific conditions” in an Egyptian prison cell. “He was detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and freedomof assembly. His continuing imprisonment represents an inexcusable violation of both international and Egyptian law,” Amnesty executive director Colm O’Gorman said.