Ibrahim Halawa marks four years of detention in Egypt

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said he believes the trial is "very nearly over"

Updated 11:00

Family, friends and supporters of Ibrahim Halawa are today marking the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment in Egypt.

The Dubliner was arrested as a 17-year-old following a protest in 2013.

His long-running mass trial is continuing in Cairo, but it is feared it may not conclude for some months.

Supporters are gathering outside the Egyptian embassy in Dublin from 1pm this afternoon to call for his release.

In a statement this morning, Mr Halawa's sister Somaia said the past four years have been "torture" for the family, adding "we miss our brother terribly."

"Four years is too long for someone who is innocent," she said. "Four years is too much for our brother, the 17 year old boy who has become a man locked away from the world, from his family, from his friends."

"Four years which Ibrahim has given of his body and his spirit to stay alive." 

Amnesty International has said Mr Halawa's detention is a violation of Egyptian and international law – and the organisation is holding a lunchtime protest at the Egyptian embassy in Dublin today.

The human rights group has declared him a prisoner of conscience and insisted that he was arrested “solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of assembly and expression.”

On the Pat Kenny Show, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he expects to see progress in the trial soon.

AUDIO

“I think the trial is very nearly over, in fact today we may well see the last hearings in court," he said.

“That may go on into next week – but I know that the judge has said that he wants to conclude it this week.

“Then it will probably take a few weeks for the judge to write up a verdict.”

Earlier he reaffirmed the government’s determination to seeing Mr Halawa released and returned to his family in Dublin, “so that he can resume his life and his studies.”

The minister suggested Mr Halawa had an “opportunity to defend himself against the charges that he faces” at a hearing earlier this month.

“I look forward to the conclusion of the judicial process, and to a resolution of this long-running and complex issue,” he said.

“I am sending a personal message to Ibrahim Halawa today expressing solidarity with him, encouraging him to stay strong and hopeful, and renewing the Government’s promise to him that we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that he is able to return home as soon as possible."

Mr Halawa, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been in prison since his arrest during demonstrations against the ousting of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in August 2013.

He faces trial alongside 493 other defendants.