THERE was widespread anger and frustration after Irish teen Ibrahim Halawa’s ninth appearance before an Egyptian court resulted in his trial being delayed until December 15.
The 19-year-old, from Firhouse, who has been in jail since his arrest over two years ago, is now an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience.
Speaking after the trial was put back, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said justice had been denied as the Egyptian system descended into farce.
“Today, Ibrahim Halawa learned that his ninth trial appearance amounted to nothing as his trial was delayed again until December 15,” he said.
“The Egyptian criminal justice system has clearly descended into farce. This young Irishman has been awaiting trial for over two years now. Today is his 779th day in jail for crimes he did not commit.
“Today’s further delay prolongs the horrific ‘Groundhog Day’ Ibrahim and his family have been put through for over two years.
“This is truly devastating news for this young man and all who care about him. This situation simply cannot be allowed to continue.”
At a rally at the Spire on O’Connell Street, Ibrahim Halawa’s family joined with Amnesty International members to call for his immediate and unconditional release.
“Today is day 777 of Ibrahim’s incarceration in an Egyptian jail accused of crimes he did not commit,” a family statement reads.
“Ibrahim is being detained for nothing more than peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
His sister Somaia Halawa said: “We, as a family, are very grateful for the messages of support we have received.
“I know Ibrahim feels stronger because he knows the Irish people have not forgotten him.
“We are very appreciative of the considerable assistance from the Irish Government, legislators and those concerned with human rights and the rule of law.”
Speaking in the Dail before Ibrahim’s appearance, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Deputy Seán Crowe addressed Tánaiste Joan Burton and appealed for the House to reach out to Ibrahim’s family.
“I’m calling on the Government to discuss this hugely important case,” he said.
“The conditions he’s staying in the jail are horrific. He is sleeping on a mat, the food at times is inedible and there is the obvious safety concerns.
“Conditions for family visits are also unacceptable – he’s supposed to get an hour – but his family says that sometimes they get four to five minutes.
“He’s an Irish citizen, he comes from Firhouse, and is facing a possible death sentence if found guilty.”
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly again called on the Taoiseach to intervene.
“It is extremely disappointing to see Ibrahim’s trial delayed until December 15,” Senator Daly said.
“This is extremely distressing for his family and means he will continue to be detained in Egypt for at least another three months.”
And Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan expressed her frustration.
“I am dejected to hear the latest news about Ibrahim’s detention coming from Egypt,” she said.
“It is the same old story – yet another adjournment to a later date, December 15.
“I am upset for Ibrahim and for his family here as well. It has been one long road of frustration.
“Ibrahim is a Dublin lad born and bred. It is time for the Government to acknowledge that now.”