Irishman’s trial in Egypt postponed for eighth time

Amnesty International has said another postponement in the trial of an Irishman in Egypt is proof the north African country’s criminal justice system is spiralling out of control.

Irishman’s trial in Egypt postponed for eighth time

Ibrahim Halawa, 19, from Firhouse in south Dublin was arrested, along with his sisters, after taking part in a protest in the Cairo in August 2013. He and 488 others were charged with murder and other offences.

According to Amnesty International, he and 493 defendants heard their mass trial has been delayed for the eighth time, with the next court date on October 4.

“Yet again, families of the defendants were denied access to the courtroom and lawyers not permitted to present a defence,” it said.

Mr Halawa’s sister, Nosayba, said she was “angry and frustrated and upset”adding that the world was simply watching the people be imprisoned.

Solicitor Darragh Mackin said: “Not allowing a lawyer to access his client’s hearing is gravely concerning and belies any suggestion that fair trial requirements are being met. Our client, Ibrahim Halawa, has now been held for almost two years without trial. We are concerned that there has been yet another delay, this time of a further two months.”

He called on the Government to help secure his client’s swift release.

Mr Mackin and colleague Gavin Booth, from KRW Law Belfast, travelled for the trial, scheduled to take place in Cairo yesterday. Upon reaching the court in Wadi El Natrun Prison, they were refused access at the gate.

Mr Halawa has been dubbed a prisoner ofconscience by Amnesty whose executive director for Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no due process in Egypt as it continues to flout international human rights law with mass life and death sentences after trials including hundreds of defendants, with continual delays to even those deeply flawed trials and with the detention of thousands of those who dare to peacefully dissent.

“Ibrahim and his family’s appalling ordeal must end and he should be immediately and unconditionally released and allowed to return home to Ireland. The court adjournment of today’s trial until October 4 while continuing to hold the defendants in pre-detention beyond two years is a blow to the rule of law in the country and shows that Egypt’s criminal justice system is spiralling out of control.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was disappointed at the latest delay. He said he had been told it was on account of the non-attendance of a number of witnesses.

“In my many contacts with my Egyptian counterpart, foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, I have emphasised the importance of due process in this case and have highlighted the Government’s continued concern regarding the length of time our citizen has spent in detention while awaiting trial,

“My department will continue to provide comprehensive consular assistance to Ibrahim, and to work actively to try to secure positive progress for him.”

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