Cairo trial of Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa postponed

Announcement made without giving cause, trial to resume on March 29th in new venue

Omaima (left) Fatima and Somaia Halawa sisters of Ibrahim Halawa whose trial in Egypt has been postponed. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Omaima (left) Fatima and Somaia Halawa sisters of Ibrahim Halawa whose trial in Egypt has been postponed. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

The trial of Irish national Ibrahim Halawa was yesterday postponed until March 29th and the venue was moved from the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo to Wadi Natrun, 100 kilometres northwest of the capital.

Irish Ambassador Isolde Moylan, who attended the court session, said neither the judges nor the defendants appeared. An official announced the postponement without giving any cause.

The previous delay was due to concern over transporting prisoners to the venue during the uncertain security situation.

The ambassador and members of her staff have attended all court sessions and visited Mr Halawa in prison more than 30 times.

Dublin-born of Egyptian parents, Mr. Halawa, 19, had entertained hopes that he could be freed following the release and deportation to Cyprus last week- end of Australian journalist Peter Greste, his sister, Nosayba, told The Irish Times.

Ms Halawa, who visited har brother on Saturday, said he was happy and expected the authorities to reduce the number of accused in this case.

This did not happen and the change of venue appears to indicate that the trial could take place at the end of March in Wadi Natrun where the prison traditionally housed fundamentalists during the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The lawyers of Mr Greste and his colleague Mohamed Fahmy, who has Canadian and Egyptian citizenship, submitted appeals for deportation and their return to Australia and Canada.

The journalists, along with another colleague, Egyptian Baher Mohamed, were detained in 2013 and sentenced to 7-10 years in prison for disseminating propaganda for the outlawed Muslim Brotherherhood. Mr Fahmy’s appeal for deportation is still pending, following his renunciation of Egyptian citizenship.

Mr Halawa has been sharing quarters at Tora Prison with the journalists who made serious efforts to maintain morale.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan said he was “disappointed to learn of the further delay and concerned that the Egyptian authorities continue to consider Ibrahim’s case as part of a group trial”.

He said he had raised the Government’s concerns a number of times with Egyptian officials.

“My Department will continue to take all appropriate action to ensure Ibrahim’s welfare, and to seek a review of his case, his release and return to his family and his studies,” he said.

Mr Halawa has been charged along with another 493 defendants of murder, attempted murder destruction of public property following an attack on a police station during an August 2013 demonstration demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

He was arrested at al-Fath mosque in central Cairo along with three of his sisters, Somaya, Fatima, and Omaima, who were held for a month, then released on bail and permitted to return to Dublin.