Trial of Ibrahim Halawa adjourned for the twelfth time

Dubliner due to appear again in court in Cairo on March 6th

The trial of Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa at a court in Wadi Natru south of Cairo in Egypt was adjourned on Saturday until March 6th. It is the twelfth time the trial has been adjourned.

The trial of Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa at a court in Wadi Natru south of Cairo in Egypt was adjourned on Saturday until March 6th. It is the twelfth time the trial has been adjourned.

 

The trial of Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa at a court in Wadi Natru south of Cairo in Egypt was adjourned on Saturday until March 6th. It is the twelfth time the trial has been adjourned.

Mr. Halawa (20) is standing trial alongside 419 other defendants many of whom were detained with him in August 2013 during an illegal march and demonstration protesting the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, a stalwart of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Ambassador Damien Cole attended Saturday’s hearing and spoke to members of the Halawa family. The Irish embassy in Cairo has been present at all hearings, has paid around 50 consular visits to Mr. Halawa, and petitioned the authorities for improvements in his accommodation.

The adjournment, for an unexpectedly long period, was due to the absence of seven defendants said to be taking exams. All must be present for proceedings to go ahead.

Lawyers again submitted petitions on behalf of their clients and called for the removal of the entire panel of judges because they have not freed the accused. Under Egyptian law an accused person can be held for no longer than two years without being sentenced.

In a departure from normal practice one defendant,apparently from the Brotherhood, was permitted to address the court.

Part of his statement was political but he also complained about prison conditions.

Previous reasons for postponements and delays have been the lack of facilities to permit all defendants to be present in the court and the failure of the prosecutors to deliver defendants’ files to lawyers as well the absence of defendants from sessions.

While some defendants are facing charges of murder, attempted murder and damaging public property following an assault on a police station, Mr. Halawa, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, has been accused of taking part in a banned protest and travelling across Cairo to participate.

Mr. Halawa, his three sisters and many others who were involved in the protest were driven by police and local residents into a mosque at Ramsis Square in the capital’s centre where they surrendered the next day.

Former Irish Ambassador Isolde Moylan had arranged with the Egyptian authorities for the Halawas’ exit and deportation but they refused to accept the deal.

The sisters were held for three months before being freed and deported but Mr. Halawa has been incarcerated in three prisons and has appeared in court repeatedly.

Egypt’s foreign ministry last month rejected an appeal from the European Parlia- ment to release and deport Mr. Halawa, arguing that accepting this request would be a “violation of the independence” of the country’s judiciary.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he was concerned at the lengthy adjournment.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon he said his department was maintaining close and regular contact with Mr Halawa.

“This latest adjournment until March 6th is clearly a matter of serious concern for all of us, and especially for Ibrahim and his family. Our Ambassador, Damien Cole, attended court today in Wadi al Natrun and spoke with members of Ibrahim’s family,” he said.

“I and my department will continue to advocate on Ibrahim’s behalf with our European partners and the Egyptian authorities until such time as he is released.”