Ibrahim Halawa trial expected to conclude in Egypt on Sunday

Irish man arrested in Cairo in 2013 at a protest with trial adjourned 25 times

The trial of Dublin man Ibrahim Halawa is expected to conclude in Egypt on Sunday.

Mr Halawa was arrested and imprisoned in 2013 while attending a protest in Cairo along with his three sisters. Mr Halawa’s sisters were released but he has remained in prison for almost four years while his trial was adjourned 25 times.

Amnesty International Ireland has highlighted the case and Irish Government observers are watching the trial in Cairo.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Irish Ambassador in Cairo Damien Cole led a team of observers at the trial on Tuesday. At the hearing a number of police witnesses gave evidence and were cross examined.

The presiding judge said that only five further witnesses will be called as part of the prosecution case, and that the prosecution case will be concluded at the next hearing, which is set for Sunday, July 9th.

“A team of official Irish observers will again be present in court [on Sunday] for that hearing”, said Mr Coveney.

He said he welcomed the progress of the trial into its final stages but said “the Irish Government cannot intervene in a case that is before the Egyptian courts. What we can do, and what we are doing, is redoubling our efforts to ensure that the Egyptian authorities fulfil the clear commitment which they have given us to resolve this issue as soon as the trial ends, and return Ibrahim Halawa to Ireland.”

Egyptian ambassador

Mr Coveney said he had met the Egyptian ambassador to Ireland Ms Soha Gendi, to discuss this case, “and I look forward to speaking to the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, as soon as possible to impress upon him how important I believe this matter is, and to reinforce the need for its early resolution.”

He said he would do everything he could as Minister “to make sure that Ibrahim Halawa is back home in Ireland with his family as soon as possible”.

Amnesty International Ireland has called for Mr Halawa’s immediate release and expressed strong concern for his health. The organisation noted Mr Halawa was just 17-years-old when arrested and had been shot in the hand, an injury for which he had never received official medical help.

Amnesty’s Colm O’Gorman welcomed support in recent weeks from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and he urged the Irish government to continue to do everything it could to secure his safe return to Ireland.

“We are encouraged by Minister Simon Coveney’s statement affirming the department’s continuing work on Ibrahim’s behalf. Egypt’s continuing refusal to respect its obligations under both Egyptian and international human rights law cannot be tolerated.

“As Ibrahim spends his 1,418th night in an Egyptian prison cell, Amnesty International continues to be gravely concerned for his mental and physical wellbeing. We again reiterate our call to the Egyptian authorities for his immediate and unconditional release,” said Mr O’Gorman.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist