Trial of Ibrahim Halawa postponed once again

Dubliner has been detained in Egypt since arrest at protest in 2013

Irish student Ibrahim Halawa was arrested after a protest in August 2013 and has been held in an Egyptian prison since then. His sister Somaia Halawa, who was also imprisoned has been campaigning since for his release.

 

The trial in Egypt of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa has been adjourned until December 15th after two critically ill defendants of the 420 accused failed to appear. No witnesses were called and no statements given.

Lawyers argued several clients who attended court were also ailing and submitted petitions for their admission to hospital.

Lawyers and family members attending the session were surprised and distressed over the length of the adjournment and protested the rule that all defendants in the case have to be present for a trial to proceed.

The absence of defendants had led to the August 2nd adjournment. Irish consul Sean Norton, Mr Halawa’s lawyers and a cousin attended the hearing at Wadi Natrun about 100 kilometres south of Cairo.

The single positive development at the hearing was the submission by the lawyers of all defendants for their release as they have served more than two years without verdicts in their cases. No decision was taken on this petition and a ruling will have to wait until the next session.

Accused in other cases, including former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons and members of his entourage have been freed, after two years in detention while legal proceedings were continuing.

Charges against the 420 accused, reduced from 494, range from murder and attempted murder during a fatal attack on a police station in Ramses Square in central Cairo to taking part in a nearby banned protest against the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Mr Halawa is charged with the latter offense and with travelling across Cairo to take part in this event.

Mr Halawa and three sisters were detained at Fateh mosque in mid-August 2013. His sisters - Fatima, Omaima and Somaia – were released after three months on bail and permitted to return to Dublin but he has been detained in several prisons since his arrest.

Following complaints s over prison conditions by the Irish embassy in Cairo, he was placed in the relatively comfortable cell shared by al-Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were tried and convicted of aiding the Brotherhood. All three have been released. Mr Greste was freed and deported to Australia; Mr Fahmy and Mr Mohamed were pardoned and Mr Fahmy departed for Canada.

Mr Halawa’s lawyers have also appealed for his release and repatriation under a presidential decree permitting foreign prisoners to serve time in their home countries. However, he has to await sentencing for this to apply.