Ibrahim Halawa trial delayed again

The 21-year-old has now seen his trial in Cairo delayed 19 times and has been imprisoned for 1,277 days

Updated 14:45

The trial of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa has been adjourned for the 19th time in Cairo.

The 21-year-old has now been held for over three years and four months without a proper court hearing.

He has been imprisoned since his arrest during demonstrations against the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in August 2013.

Campaigners are worried over the Dubliner’s health and his situation was the focus of a 45-minute meeting between Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and an eight-member Oireachtas delegation in Cairo last month.

President Sisi reportedly gave the Irish politicians the "clear impression" that he will grant Mr Halawa clemency when his trial is complete.

Laughing at the government

In a statement this afternoon Mr Halawa's sister, Somaia Halawa said the family is “absolutely broken hearted and frustrated” at the latest delay to the trial.

“It is now clear to everyone that the Egyptian Authorities are making a laugh of the Irish Government,” she said. “President Sisi’s promises of releasing Ibrahim when the trial has concluded are useless if the trial never starts in the first place.”

“He could pardon Ibrahim today; he could make sure that Ibrahim is included in the youth amnesty but he won’t because the pressure for him to do it is not there.”

Reacting to the news, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan expressed his “deep disappointment” at the latest delay to the trial.

“I am concerned for Ibrahim to whom we are providing ongoing consular care,” said Minister Flanagan. “Ireland’s Ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, was present in the court for today’s hearing and he has given me a report on the hearing.”

“Ambassador Cole’s report indicates that notwithstanding this adjournment, the judges have indicated a clear desire to move this case forward.

“I will continue to use every available opportunity to highlight Ireland’s concerns with the Egyptian authorities.”

1,277 days in prison

Mr Halawa was 17-years-old when he was first detained in August 2013 - and has now spent 1,277 days in prison.

He has been charged with attempted murder and faces a mass trial alongside 493 other defendants.

Somaia Halawa said it is now up to the Taoiseach to "lay out clearly and unequivocally that Ibrahim must be returned home to Ireland."

"Unless Enda Kenny takes the same hard-line approach adopted by the Australian Government nothing will ever change," she said. "Our brother will continue to waste his life away in a prison. He will continue to be beaten and punished. His family will continue to worry ourselves every day and night about his safety."

She called on the government to "take a firm stand" and tell the Cairo authorities that they will hold up any EU deals with Egypt for as long as it takes to get Mr Halawa home.

Lack of evidence

In a statement today, Amnesty International said that a technical review of video material ordered by the Egyptian court last June has found no evidence against Mr Halawa.

Amnesty researchers on the ground in Egypt have asserted that Mr Halawa was in the al-Fath mosque at the time of the alleged offences and could not have committed the violent crimes with which he has been charged.

Amnesty international Ireland executive director, Colm O’Gorman said Mr Halawa was detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

“His continuing imprisonment represents an inexcusable violation of both international and Egyptian law,” he said.

He said Amnesty continues to be gravely concerned for his mental and physical wellbeing.

"We reiterate our call on the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against Ibrahim and to order his immediate and unconditional release,” he said. “We also urge the Irish Government to continue working on his behalf and to use every means at their disposal to secure his release.”

The trial has been rescheduled for 22nd March 2017.