Sunday 25 February 2018

Minister 'disappointed, concerned' after Ibrahim Halawa trial is postponed for ninth time

Ibrahim Halaawa
Ibrahim Halaawa
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he is “disappointed and concerned” that the trial of Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish student detained in Egypt, has been postponed for a ninth time.

His comments come after Mr Halawa's trial was postponed yet again yesterday because two defendants were not in court, according to his family.

The teenager is facing 'Groundhog Day' in a Cairo court, Amnesty International has said.

He is not due to appear before a judge again until December 15.

The 19-year-old from Firhouse in Dublin has been imprisoned for 780 days in an Egyptian jail following his arrest during the Al Fateh Mosque Siege in August 2013.

Minister Flanagan said the Irish Government is “engaged” with the Egyptian authorities on a “constant basis”.

“Officials from the Irish Embassy attended his trial and reported back directly to me.  I am very much involved in this case and have been since I was appointed to this position in the middle of last year.

“I am very anxious that the trial would be concluded at the earliest date and that Mr Halawa be reunited with his family here in Dublin to resume his studies,” he said this morning.

His sister Nusayba said the family are "very disappointed" at the latest delay in proceedings.

Her brother's lawyer had appealed for him to be released on bail because he has been imprisoned for more than two years.

"There is a law that some people say is active that says that you can apply for bail after two years," Ms Halawa explained.

"We're not in a good way because we had a big hope that he might be released on bail or at least that it would be postponed for a shorter time.

"We heard from the solicitor that they asked the judge to keep it to a short time and he said it can be a weekly hearing so we can finish the case quickly but he changed his words."

Her brother "could hardly stand", according to reports from family members at the trial. They said he signalled from behind the glass barrier where defendants are kept that this was due to a sore back.

He is standing trial alongside some 493 other defendants in a mass trial.

Last night, Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the Egyptian criminal justice system has "descended into farce".

"Today's [Sunday's] further delay prolongs the horrific 'Groundhog Day' Ibrahim and his family have been put through for over two years," he said.

Mr O'Gorman called on the Government to intervene.

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