Egyptian court adjourns Ibrahim Halawa trial for 15th time

Latest delay ‘cements belief that the trial is now unlikely any time soon’

Ibrahim Halawa is accused along with 493 others on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment of the death penalty.

Ibrahim Halawa is accused along with 493 others on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment of the death penalty.

 

The trial of Ibrahim Halawa, the young Irish man who has been detained in Egypt for more than three years, has been adjourned for the 15th time.

Mr Halawa, who is from Firhouse in Dublin, has been in prison since August 2013 when he was arrested at the Fateh mosque in Cairo during protests against the ousting of then-president Mohamed Morsi. He is accused along with 493 others on serious charges which could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Mr Halawa’s case has been adjourned until November 12th, 2016.

A statement released by Mr Halawa’s legal representation on behalf of his family said there were always concerns over whether the trial would proceed on October 2nd due to the fact that it fell on the start of the Islamic New Year which is a public holiday.

It said the legal team and the Irish Government had been certain the trial would proceed and conclude on June 29th, 2016 but “this hope was dashed when the trial was in essence, restarted, and a new panel charged with reviewing video evidence. That in and of itself reaffirmed our concerns that the likelihood of a trial beginning today was zero”. Defendants had applied at the last hearing in June for an expert review of audio-visual evidence to take place on October 2nd.

The statement, signed by Mr Halawa’s solicitor Darragh Mackin and his counsel Caoilfhionn Gallagher, voiced extreme concern over the progress of the case and said the latest adjournment “cemented the belief that the trial is now unlikely any time soon”.

Mr Halawa’s legal team, which lodged an application for his release by presidential decree on August 18th, 2016, said it was their understanding that the application was being “actively considered” and that “maximum pressure” must be brought to bear “to ensure that it is met with the appropriate response”.

The application for Mr Halawa’s release was lodged under the Egyptian Law 140 which allows for the transfer of accused or convicted prisoners from Egypt to their home country.

The move followed the rejection by the speaker of the Egyptian parliament of an all-party Oireachtas motion calling for Mr Halawa’s immediate release.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said the department was seeking “urgent clarification on the date of the next hearing” and was working closely with Mr Halawa’s legal team in Cairo and Dublin.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan spoke directly to Egyptian Ambassador to Ireland Soha Gendi and Ireland’s Ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, following the adjournment, underling the Government’s “strong desire to see Ibrahim returned to Ireland as a matter of urgency”, said the spokeswoman.

She added that the Government had again formally supported an application by Mr Halawa’s lawyers to have him returned to Ireland under Decree 140.

“The Taoiseach and Minister Flanagan have written to their Egyptian counterparts reinforcing that support.”

Mr Flanagan said he met with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry last week where he highlighted his concerns at the “repeated delays” in the trial and added that senior department offices would meet with Ms Gendi on Monday.

The latest trial adjournment “unequivocally strengthens the requirement for the Egyptian President to now directly intervene” and ensure Mr Halawa returns home to Ireland, according to the statement from KRW Law and Doughty Street Chambers. Mr Halawa’s return to Ireland remains the only option “to ensure that Egypt respects its obligations under International Law”, it added.

In a letter released last week, the young Dublin man wrote to his family marking the date he should have graduated from college in Dublin.

“Today while every graduate throws their graduation hat in the sky to come down with the long waiting dream, I don’t see the sky. Because I’m enrolled in a different college. A college that kidnapped me from life to teach me the principles of real life.”

Mr Halawa’s sister Somaia later revealed that her brother was refusing visits from family or embassy officials. “Ibrahim feels that the more visits he is receiving behind bars the longer he will remain there,” she said.