Despair for family of local man locked up in Egypt as trial adjourned again

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Ibrahim Halawa, the 20-year-old from Firhouse who has been in prison in Egypt for nearly three years yesterday had his trial postponed for the 14th time.

After spending 1,045 days behind bars a verdict was supposed to be given yesterday on his latest court appreaence but his trial has now been but back until October 2.  The charges against Halawa still remain unknown.

He was originally arrested in August 2013, while taking part in protests against the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

A number of local politicians yesterday spoke out in support of Halawa.

Local Dublin South West TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, TD. said the government must urgently reassess their strategy on the case.

“The principle of justice delayed is justice denied lies at the very heart of the Halawa case.
“It is unacceptable that for three-years an Irish citizen has been languishing in an Egyptian Jail with his day in court postponed on 15 occasions.
“I share the very real concerns of the Halawa family and their supporters, as well as human rights organisations about Ibrahim’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“All faith in Egyptian promises of progressing this case has been lost.
“I firmly believe that securing Ibrahim’s freedom must be the priority and I am asking my Government colleagues to carry out an urgent review of current strategy which to date has failed to secure that goal.”

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West Colm Brophy, also said the government must be supported in their efforts for justice for the local man.

“At this point I would again urge that everyone would support the family and the efforts of Minister Charlie Flanagan and the Government to secure a successful outcome for the family and for Ibrahim.

“Ibrahim has been in prison now for over three years awaiting trial and following this adjournment it is more important than ever that everybody works together to ensure that his case is dealt with, as soon as possible.”

Amnesty International said they are outraged at the latest adjournment, and have called the Egyptian legal system a ‘farce’.

Ibrahim Halawa was just 17 when he was first arrested while taking sanctuary in the Al Fath mosque, his sisters were released on bail and are safe in Ireland, while he remains in Egyptian jail.

Speaking last month Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who shared a prison cell with Ibrahim, said that if it wasn’t for the pressure on politicians and diplomats by his family in Australia, he would still be in prison.

The Irish government says it is pursuing every constructive avenue to secure his release but lawyers for Mr Halawa say that the Government has the ability to deploy a special discretionary presidential decree which applies to foreign defendants to continue the judicial process or serve out their sentence in their home country.

This mechanism, called Rule 140 was successfully used by lawyers for Mr Greste last year.

He was returned to Australia upon the agreement that authorities there complete the judicial process instead of standing in a retrial in Egypt.

The Australian courts found that there was no evidence to charge Mr Greste with any crime and he was released.

It is believed that the Irish government is intending to seek the application of Rule 140, but after Halawa is sentenced.