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Ibrahim Halawa: Irish government concerned at Egyptian trial delays

Ibrihim, Fatima, Omaima and Somaia Halawa Image copyright PA
Image caption Ibrahim, Fatima, Omaima and Somaia Halawa were caught up in the siege after seeking sanctuary in the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in July 2013

The Irish government has expressed concern following a further delay to the trial of an Irish teenager who could face the death penalty in Egypt.

Ibrahim Halawa, who is the son of the most senior Muslim cleric in Ireland, has been held without trial in an Egyptian prison for the last 18 months.

He was arrested during the Al-Fath mosque siege in Cairo in August 2013.

The Irish minister for foreign affairs said he was disappointed the trial was postponed for a fourth time on Sunday.

Family holiday

Mr Halawa is facing a mass trial, alongside almost 500 other people, who were arrested by Egyptian security forces during a crackdown on protests in Cairo.

The Dublin-born teenager was on a family holiday to his parents' homeland when he and three of his sisters were arrested in the mosque. He was 17 at the time.

They family said they had taken refuge in the building during violent clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and the security forces.

The sisters were allowed to return to Dublin after a few months, but their now 19-year-old younger brother remains in Tora prison, where up until recently, he shared a cell with the now freed Australian journalist, Peter Greste.

In a statement on Sunday, Irish minister for foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan said: "I am disappointed to learn of the further delay today and concerned that the Egyptian authorities continue to consider Ibrahim's case as part of a group trial.

'Sustained contact'

"I have personally raised the government's concerns about this case with my Egyptian counterpart on a number of occasions.

"Officials in Dublin and Cairo have been working actively on this case, and have been in ongoing and sustained contact with the Egyptian authorities and international partners, since Ibrahim Halawa was initially imprisoned."

Mr Flanagan added: "My department will continue to take all appropriate action to ensure Ibrahim's welfare, and to seek a review of his case, his release and return to his family and his studies.

"In the meantime, we will continue to provide all possible consular assistance to Ibrahim Halawa and his family.

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