The prosecution case against Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa and other defendants in a protracted Egyptian case has been brought to a close, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.
Irish Embassy officials were in court to watch the latest proceedings in a case that has been adjourned on 27 occasions, and kept Mr Halawa in custody for almost four years.
He is being prosecuted along with 492 other prisoners following protests in Cairo. Despite signs of eventual progress, the Halawa family fear the group trial could take another year before lawyers for the multitudes of defendants are all heard.
In a statement on Tuesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney welcomed the end of the prosecution case. "I also welcome the fact that the defendants and their lawyers will now have their opportunity to set out their arguments responding to the prosecution case and evidence," he said.
The trial judge has set the next hearing date for August 1st.
Mr Halawa was arrested in Cairo when he was 17 in the aftermath of protests led by the Muslim Brotherhood. His sisters, also arrested, were later released, and have been campaigning vigorously for their brother's release.
Referring to a recent meeting between himself, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Halawa family, Mr Coveney said he "gave them strong reassurances that we will continue to maintain pressure in order to ensure that this issue is resolved, and that this young Irish citizen is returned to his home and his family as soon as possible".
“I told them on that occasion – and I want to underline again today – that this case will remain our highest priority until it is resolved.”
The family have been critical of the Government’s response to his case.