Egypt mass trial tomorrow could see death sentences for 500, including Irish teen

November 30, 2014

A mass trial for almost 500 people will resume tomorrow (1 December) in Egypt, and could see death sentences handed down to the defendants – including an Irish teenager arrested last year while on holiday.

Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 at the time of his arrest during a military crackdown on protests in the city last August. He is one of 494 defendants who could face a death sentence in a makeshift courtroom expected to convene in the Tora prison complex in Cairo. It’s emerged that several other minors are also among the hundreds due in court.

Tomorrow’s hearing follows a mass trial several days ago at which authorities handed down sentences totalling 340 years to 78 children. At that hearing, lawyers were reportedly barred from entering the court.

At the last hearing for Mr Halawa’s mass trial in August this year, a three-judge panel resigned from the case mid-hearing, citing ‘unease’ with the proceedings amid protests from lawyers and defendants alike.

Egypt’s mass trials have been condemned by the UN as illegal and “rife with procedural irregularities”, and by Egyptian rights groups as “a grave violation of… the right to a fair trial”.

A report published days ago from the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, meanwhile, criticised the UK Government for failing to list Egypt as a ‘country of concern’ in light of the mass trials and the handing down of death sentences.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Halawa, said: “It is extremely worrying that the mass trial appears to be going ahead as planned. This is a clear violation of internationally-accepted fair trial standards, and the international community must do all it can to halt them and prevent hundreds of people from potentially being sentenced to death.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The hearing is expected to take place on Monday December 1st at approximately 10am local time (8am UK) at the Tora prison complex, Cairo.

2. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7792 351 660