Taoiseach to press Egypt over latest Ibrahim Halawa delay

Supporters of Ibrahim Halawa, the young Irishman detained in an Egyptian prison for more than three years, have received mixed messages from the Irish Government about efforts to free him, after his trial was postponed for the 16th time.

Taoiseach to press Egypt over latest Ibrahim Halawa delay

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he intended contacting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the case “as a matter of urgency — probably in the next week”.

However, he also said he had been in touch with Sisi twice already. “He made it perfectly clear to me that he is not in a position to interfere with the judicial process, that he can only use his presidential pardon powers once the case has been delivered upon.”

Ibrahim, 20, from Firhouse in Dublin, was arrested while staying with relatives in Cairo in August 2013 during demonstrations in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. He faces a mass trial with 493 other defendants on charges that may include murder, which carries the death penalty.

Katie O’Byrne, a London- based human rights lawyer who is working on his case, told RTÉ Radio it was still unclear exactly what charges Ibrahim faced or what, if any, evidence had been gathered against him.

The London team has been denied any direct contact with him and it is unclear whether his Egyptian lawyer is able to meet personally with him.

“This whole process has been characterised by delay and lack of information and abuse of the fundamental rights of this Irish citizen,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“Obviously it is not legitimate to hold a mass trial or to continually adjourn it,” she continued. “He cannot now receive a fair trial.”

The apparent reason for the latest adjournment — to December 13 — was the absence of some defendants, but with almost 500 accused, it is feared a full attendance cannot be achieved.

“I am concerned about this. It seems to be a case of a different issue every time that brings about a postponement of the case,” said Mr Kenny. He stressed that the Government had backed an application under Egyptian decree 140 which allows for the transfer home of a foreign prisoner for trial in their own country.

There are no signs of the request being approved.

More in this section