Trial of Ibrahim Halawa postponed until October

Verdict in retrial of Al Jazeera TV journalists adjourned until August 29th

 

The trial of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt has been adjourned for a further two months.

Mr Halawa, whose hearing has been postponed numerous times already, is now due to face trial on October 4th. The 19-year-old has been detained in Cairo for almost two years.

The trial was adjourned after two juvenile defendants, their lawyers, and several witnesses failed to appear before the court.

Consul Sean Norton represented the Irish Embassy at the proceedings which lasted 45 minutes while the judge heard petitions from lawyers of several accused.

Charges against the 420 accused, reduced from 494, range from murder and attempted murder during a fatal attack on a police station in centraL Cairo to taking part in a banned protest near the Fateh mosque in the same area. Mr Halawa falls into the least serious category.

Sources in Cairo said it is common for court cases to be adjourned during August and September as the new judicial year begins in October.

On Saturday, The Irish Times reported the Egyptian government cannot intervene to release Ibrahim Halawa while his case is before the courts, but there may be “room” for talks on the teenager’s return to Ireland after the trial.

Mr Halawa and about 490 others face charges that include terrorism, murder and the use of explosives. The Irish-born young man, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been detained in Egypt since being arrested at the al-Fateh mosque in Cairo during protests against the ousting of then-president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

Amnesty International has declared Mr Halawa a prisoner of conscience and called for his release. Doughty Street Chambers, a London-based law firm representing the teenager, says his case file contains no evidence to link him to any of the crimes he is alleged to have committed.

Egyptian ambassador to Ireland Soha Gendi said her government could not intervene “until the case was done” as the separation of powers precluded any interference in the judicial system.

An Egyptian court on Sunday also postponed for the second time the verdict in the retrial of Al Jazeera television journalists who have been charged with aiding a terrorist organisation, a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to August 29th.

Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were released on bail in February after spending more than a year in custody. A third Al Jazeera journalist, Australian Peter Greste, was deported in February.

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Lynn Boylan described as “devasting” the news that Mr Halawa’s trial has been postponed.

Ms Boylan, who is in Egypt, said: “the judge has said that nobody will be released before October 4th, with no chance of bail for Ibrahim before that date.

“Ibrahim’s family were not allowed to attend the trial or meet Ibrahim. They were left to wait outside in 46 degree heat without shelter.”

Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Pat Breen and an advisor have been granted permission

to visit Mr Halawa due to serious concern over his situation. He reportedly began a hunger strike in June but it is unclear whether he has continued this protest.