Government urged to ‘lay down the law’ over Ibrahim Halawa

The Government has been urged to send a strong signal to Egyptian authorities that “patience has run out” in the case of an Irishman jailed four years ago for taking part in protests in Cairo, writes Juno McEnroe and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

A verdict had been expected yesterday in the case of Ibrahim Halawa in a mass trial of those involved in Muslim Brotherhood protests in August 2013, following the removal of president Mohamed Morsi.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney insisted the Government was expecting an outcome from Cairo on the case.

“There are major developments in that case that are going to happen today,” he told RTÉ.

However, the only development was the further adjournment of the trial until September 18.

The Halawa family solicitor said it was time for the Government to “lay down the law” and for “the gloves to come off”.

Darragh Mackin of Belfast-based human rights legal firm KRW Law said the delay was “truly devastating” for Mr Halawa and his family.

“It is not known when this case will ever end,” he said. “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.”

Mr Halawa is facing the threat of a death sentence if found guilty.

MEP Lynn Boylan called for action, saying that the Government had been led on a “song and dance”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government needed to say our “patience has run out”.

The Government should use the precedent of getting a presidential pardon, as had been the case with an Australian national who was then set free from Egypt’s jails, he said.

Mr Varadkar last night spoke by phone with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for 25 minutes.

His department said that he “made clear to President Al-Sisi that his priority was to secure the return of Ibrahim Halawa to Ireland as soon as possible”.

“President Al-Sisi emphasised that his government could not interfere in a judicial process but gave the Taoiseach his word that he would resolve the matter swiftly within the Egyptian constitutional and legal framework once the trial concludes and the verdict is known, “ a statement said.

This story first appeared in theIrish Examiner

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