Halawa family speak of heartbreak following verdict delay

The family are urging the Government to take a tougher diplomatic approach if there are further delays

Halawa family speak of heartbreak following verdict delay

File photo of a protest to mark the fourth anniversary of Ibrahim Halawa’s Arrest, 17-08-2017. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Ibrahim Halawa’s family have spoken of their heartbreak after a verdict in his trial in Egypt was delayed.

The 21-year-old Dubliner has been held in a Cairo jail since his arrest during demonstrations against the ousting of former-President Mohammed Morsi in August 2013.

He has now spent almost four years in prison - amid continued delays to a mass trial that involves more than 490 other defendants.

It was widely expected that a verdict would be handed down on Monday; however that decision has now been delayed until the 18th of September.

This afternoon, speaking publicly for the first time since the verdict was delayed; Somaia Halawa said her brother’s continued absence will be keenly felt tomorrow – as the family celebrates the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

“Tomorrow is the feast,” she said. “So imagine if you are the family, tomorrow you are celebrating Christmas with someone missing from the family.”

“You just feel like a part of your body is not there.

“Tomorrow is the ninth feast that we have celebrated – but yet Ibrahim is not there.”

She also read out a letter that she said Ibrahim wrote in his cell last Sunday, in which he spoke of his hope that his dreams of freedom may finally be coming close to reality.

“I look into everyone’s face in the cell,” the letter reads. “People seem happy that the story is coming to an end but I see deep down, everyone is shattering into pieces.”

The family’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin warned that the Government may need to change its tack – if there is no progression in the case at the next court date.

“It has previously been raised that there is one other option for the Irish government and that is to initiate proceedings against the Egyptian State,” he said.

“We do not advocate that that position may be taken now but we do advocate that a deadline must now be imposed.

“A deadline must be imposed for Egypt to act – otherwise the Irish government should act.”

Amnesty International has declared Mr Halawa a prisoner of conscience and insisted that he was arrested “solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of assembly and expression.”

Regardless of the outcome at the next sitting of the court, Mr Halawa could return to Ireland under a Presidential pardon.

The current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly made the commitment during a meeting he held with an eight-member Oireachtas delegation in Cairo in January.

Earlier this week, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney expressed his frustration at the latest delay – insisting the Government will keep working on his behalf.