Saturday 24 March 2018

Irishman detained in Egypt for four years has first chance to offer defence in court

Ibrahim Halawa is being held in Egypt.
Ibrahim Halawa is being held in Egypt. Newsdesk Newsdesk

An Irishman who has been detained in Egypt for four years has had his first opportunity to defend himself in court, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said.

Ibrahim Halawa was imprisoned after being detained during Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo in 2013, and hearings have been adjourned and delayed numerous times over the last four years.

Minister Coveney said:

“Today in Cairo, just two weeks short of the fourth anniversary of his arrest, Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa has finally had his opportunity to defend himself in court.  It has taken a long time to get here, but I welcome the fact that we have finally arrived at the point where Mr Halawa and his lawyers have had an opportunity to give his side of the story and to put forward legal  argument in his defence.

"Ibrahim Halawa is represented by a very well-respected and highly-regarded Egyptian legal team and they have been able today to lay out their arguments against the charges that Mr Halawa faces."

Ireland’s Ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, attended court today alongside a team of observers.

However it may still be some time before a verdict in Mr Halawa's case is delivered.

“Our understanding, from contacts with Mr Halawa’s legal team is that the defence arguments of all of the defendants in the trial will be heard before any verdicts are announced in this mass trial, so it may still be some time before we know the outcome of this protracted trial process for Ibrahim Halawa," the Minister said.

“However, there is no doubt that the end of this ordeal now appears closer than it has done at any point during the past four years.

The Government will continue to monitor the developments in the trial.

“Further hearings in the mass trial, involving defence arguments related to other defendants, are expected to take place over the coming days," Minister Coveney said.

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