Thursday 14 December 2017

Kenny to put pressure on Egypt as Halawa suffers 16th trial delay

Ibrahim Halawa’s sisters, Fatima (left) and Omaima. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Ibrahim Halawa’s sisters, Fatima (left) and Omaima. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Greg Harkin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will raise the detention of a Dublin student with Egypt's president again - after the trial was delayed for a 16th time.

It will be the latest in a series of contacts between Mr Kenny and president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the Ibrahim Halawa case.

Mr Kenny has twice raised it in face-to-face meetings with el-Sisi and has also written to him over delays in Mr Halawa's trial which was held up again yesterday.

The case has been adjourned until December 13, his 21st birthday. Mr Halawa was arrested in August 2013 at a protest in a mosque in Cairo.

Mr Kenny said he was very disappointed at the 16th adjournment in the case.

And he said el-Sisi had told him he could not interfere in Egypt's judicial process.

"He (el-Sisi) has said he can only use his Presidential pardon powers once the case has been delivered on," said the Taoiseach.

He said the Government is also supporting an appeal for the student's deportation to Ireland under Egyptian law 140.

"I am concerned about this. It seems to be a case of a different issue every time there is a postponement of the case.

"We would like to see the case heard so that there can be a conclusion to it.

"It is my intention to contact President el-Sisi again as a matter of urgency, probably in the next week."

Egypt has denied claims he has been tortured. The case was adjourned at the weekend because some of the 493 co-accused were unable to appear in court.

The student's London-based barrister Katie O'Byrne said she wasn't surprised by the latest delay.

She said: "It is not legitimate to hold a trial for 494 people in a mass trial and it is not legitimate to delay a case for three and a half years.

"We're not aware there is any evidence at all against our client which underlines the point he cannot have a fair trial."

She said it is still unclear what specific charges Mr Halawa faces because of the limited documents released by the Egyptian prosecutors.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he spoke to the Egyptians at the weekend to protest about the latest delay. Embassy staff attended the hearing to monitor the latest adjournment.

Mr Halawa has spent 1,184 days in prison. Amnesty International has declared him a Prisoner of Conscience, based on its own eye-witness evidence "that he could not have carried out the acts he is accused of".

Irish Independent

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