Europe

Ibrahim Halawa trial delayed for 22nd time

Ibrahim Halawa
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa was 17 when he was imprisoned in 2013

The trial of an Irishman who has been imprisoned in an Egyptian jail for almost four years has been delayed for a 22nd time.

Ibrahim Halawa, now 21, from Dublin, was arrested when he was 17 during a siege at the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in 2013.

He has been accused, along with more than 400 others, of inciting violence, riot and sabotage.

The trial has been adjourned until 9 May.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said there was some indication that the trial of Mr Halawa was "progressing".

"The Irish Embassy in Cairo has been closely monitoring this trial since it began," he said.

"The relatively short adjournment period and the progress in recent hearings in terms of witness testimony are indications of momentum in the trial process, which is to be welcomed after a very difficult and frustrating period of over three years.

'Utmost concern'

"My expectation now is that the trial will move towards a conclusion. It is important that there should be no further delays in the process.

"The government, my own Department of Foreign Affairs and our embassy in Cairo will continue to monitor all developments in relation to Ibrahim Halawa's case and his health and welfare, which remain matters of the utmost concern.

"We will continue to provide every possible consular assistance to Ibrahim Halawa and his family. A further consular visit will be undertaken by the embassy to Ibrahim Halawa in the coming days."

Earlier this month, the Irish government arranged for a doctor to visit the Dubliner in jail following concerns about his health.

He has staged a series of hunger strikes in protest at being imprisoned without trial for over three years.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa was arrested along with his sisters Fatima, Omaima and Somaia

Last month, his lawyer said he was so weak that jail staff used a wheelchair to take him to family visits.

Mr Halawa is the son of the most senior Muslim cleric in the Republic of Ireland.

He was arrested with three of his sisters in Cairo in 2013.

The women were released after three months, but their younger brother remained in jail.

Amnesty International said it continued to be "gravely concerned" for Mr Halawa's physical and mental health.

"We reiterate our call on the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against him and for his immediate and unconditional release," said Colm O'Gorman from Amnesty International Ireland.

"We also urge the Irish government to continue working on his behalf and to use every means at their disposal to secure his release.

"Amnesty has conducted a thorough, independent review of the prosecution evidence and concluded that he was arrested solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of assembly and expression."

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