Egypt postpones trial of Irishman on hunger strike

Mass trial postponed for the tenth time as human rights groups fear for Ibrahim Halawa’s health.

ibrhahim with frineds
Ibrahim Halawa, centre, has been in jail since August 2013 after being arrested for an alleged role in violence during protests [Somaia Halawa/Al Jazeera]

Egypt has delayed a mass trial that includes an Irish citizen on hunger strike for the tenth time, raising concern among his family, human rights groups and lawyers that his health will deteriorate further.

Ibrahim Halawa’s trial with 493 other defendants was due to be heard in court on Tuesday but was cancelled because one of the defendants was unable to attend, reports said.

He was arrested in August 2013 with hundreds more people for an alleged role in violence during protests in Cairo – charges he, witnesses, and his lawyers all deny.

READ MORE: Irish citizen on hunger strike turns 20 in Egypt prison

“With each day that passes with Ibrahim in jail, his life is affected negatively, both physically and mentally,” Somaia Halawa, his sister, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

“Sometimes, we fear that it is too late to fix things. We hope it’s not too late for Ibrahim.”

The trial was postponed until Saturday.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, London, which represents the 20-year-old, said: “Our client has been held without trial in horrendous, inhumane conditions.

“When the trial eventually proceeds it will inevitably be unfair … our client has not been allowed proper access to his lawyers to prepare his defence and he has been held for so long on vague, trumped up charges without supporting evidence.”

Halawa began a hunger strike protest in October.

Colm O’Gorman, head of Amnesty International Ireland, said that he “remains gravely concerned for Ibrahim’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“This latest adjournment … yet again proves the gross unfairness and absurdity of this trial process. With hundreds of defendants, many of whom have been imprisoned for months or years, it is highly likely that at least one will be unable to attend court on any given day.”

On Thursday, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are due to vote on a resolution calling on Egypt to release Halawa.

“The Egyptian government is now peddling lies in order to stop MEPs from helping Ibrahim Halawa, a European citizen,” said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death-penalty team. “Egypt’s allies in Europe and beyond must tell it that enough is enough – these bogus court proceedings must be disbanded, and Ibrahim and hundreds of others must be released.”

If convicted, Halawa could face the death penalty under Egyptian law.

Source: Al Jazeera


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