'It's not just Ibrahim’s life that is being played around with' - Halawa sister reveals family's anguish after verdict is postponed
Family react to news that mass trial of 494 people, including Ibrahim Halawa, has been postponed
The sister of Ibrahim Halawa described it as "truly upsetting and heart-breaking" to hear her brother's verdict has been postponed for another three weeks.
Ibrahim Halawa has been imprisoned in Egypt for the past four years.
He was arrested along with hundreds of other individuals during 2013 protests against the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.
There was no reason given today for the postponing of the trial verdict.
There have been numerous court hearings, which have all been adjourned, prompting widespread criticism here of the length of time he has been held without trial. There was much anticipation among Irish officials for the verdict today.
In a statement released by the family, Somaia Halawa, sister of Ibrahim Halawa said; "It is truly upsetting and heart-breaking to constantly keep having our expectations and hopes shattered into a million pieces.
"It is not just Ibrahim’s life that is being played around with but also the entire family’s life. We would ask that our family are allowed some time to ourselves during this difficult period."
The family solicitor Darragh Mackin added; "Today’s news is truly devastating for our client and his family. Regrettably, this is not the first time the case has been due to conclude when a last minute - unexpected and unjustified decision is taken to delay the case further. We are now four years on, with each day and each false dawn having a hugely significant mental and physical impact on our client’s health.
It is not known when this case will ever end. Such irrational and unpredictable decisions cannot be allowed to continue, and in particular when they operate in a vacuum of lawfulness depriving our client of his basic rights."
Maya Foa, Reprieve director, said; "Ibrahim was arrested as a child for the 'crime' of attending a protest and brutally tortured.
"His shockingly unfair mass trial of nearly 500 people, all facing potential death sentences, has dragged on for more than four years.
"This mockery of justice demonstrates that there is no longer any semblance of due process in Egypt," she continued.
"The international community – including the EU, which helps to fund Egypt’s courts – must urge President el-Sisi to return Ibrahim back home to Ireland without delay.
"They must also call on his government to end its patently illegal use of mass trials and the death penalty for protesting."
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, has expressed disappointment and frustration at the news from Cairo.
“I am frustrated at the news that the final hearing in the court case involving Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa was today deferred. The Irish Ambassador was in court for this morning’s proceedings, and our understanding now is that the verdicts in the case will be announced on Monday, 18 September.
"This is very frustrating for Ibrahim Halawa and for his family, who were expecting some definitive news today, and I fully share that sense of disappointment and frustration at yet another delay in this long-running case.
"Nonetheless, we will be continuing to work in support of Ibrahim and his family and doing everything we can to ensure that he is able to return to Ireland as soon as possible once the trial ends.”
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said she shares the "deep disappointment" of the Halawa family.
“I share the deep disappointment felt by the family of Ibrahim Halawa following the postponement of a verdict," Minister Zappone said.
"Ibrahim and his family are in my thoughts and prayers during this enormously difficult time.
"As Ibrahim’s local TD I remain in continuous contact with the family, his legal team as well as Government colleagues. This is a very difficult consular case for the Department of Foreign Affairs and the officials working behind the scenes have my full support.
"Ireland has respected the legal process and we expect it to deliver.
"At a time when hopes are high this further delay is very frustrating. Nevertheless we must continue to put in place the supports necessary to ensure Ibrahim’s health and well-being when he is allowed home to be reunited with his loved ones."