'It's like going back to zero' - Ibrahim's trial blow
The family of an Irish teenager held without charge in an Egyptian prison for almost a year have told how they fear for his life after a judge stormed out of a mass trial in Cairo.
Irish-born Ibrahim Halawa, (18), is among 483 people facing the possible death sentence in Egypt after being arrested following Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo, last August 16 and 17, against the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi.
Even though he was a minor at the time of his arrest, Ibrahim has been held with adults in the notorious Tora prison without charge.
Three of his sisters, Somaia (28), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21) were arrested with him when they hid in a mosque but they were released on bail last November and returned to Ireland.
His family's hope that he would at least get the opportunity to face his accusers during a long-awaited trial yesterday descended into farce, when the judge stormed out of the courtroom, refusing to hear the case.
Another sister of Ibrahim's, Khadija, who lives in Dublin, said her sister Nosayba, who went to the court but was not allowed inside the courthouse, learned that the case has been postponed without a date being set, after the judge took issue with complaints by lawyers appearing at the hearing.
He refused to hear the case after they protested over prisoners not being able to hear or see the proceedings from a glass enclosure inside the courtroom.
Now the family fears it could be months before another court date is set, during which time their brother continues to languish in the dangerous prison.
"We are sure his life is in danger for him to be there for so long," Khadija said. "It's like going back to zero."
Noting his "close personal interest in the case," Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan last night said the Irish ambassador to Egypt, Isolde Moylan, was at the proceedings as well as a department official and a member of the European Union delegation to Egypt and they are doing everything possible to secure Ibrahim's release.
This includes repeated appeals to the Egyptian foreign minister for Ibrahim to be tried as a minor on "specific" not "sweeping group charges".
But he said they cannot interfere with the judicial process.