Egypt delays mass trial of Irish juvenile, despite promise of verdict
June 29, 2016
Egypt has today postponed a verdict in the long-delayed mass trial of Irish juvenile Ibrahim Halawa and 493 other prisoners, who were arrested in the wake of 2013 protests.
Despite recent indications that the trial process was drawing to a close, at a hearing today in Wadi Natrun prison, the judge is understood to have postponed the trial until October 2nd – and indicated that at that point, he plans to consider video evidence for the first time. The video evidence has been available since the start of the proceedings in September 2013.
Today’s delay means that the trial will reconvene more than three years after the army’s arrest of Ibrahim – from Dublin – and his co-defendants in August 2013. Ibrahim was 17 and on holiday in Cairo when he was arrested during the breakup of protests. He is being illegally tried as an adult, and faces a potential death sentence. Speaking today, his family said they were “devastated” by the further delay.
Since the current Egyptian government took power in 2013, several hundred alleged protestors have been sentenced to death in the mass trials, which fall short of international fair trial standards. The proceedings have been condemned by countries closely allied to Egypt, such as the US and the UK, as well as the EU and the UN.
Torture is common in Egypt’s prisons, and the postponement will cause further concerns for Ibrahim’s welfare over the next few months in detention. In a recent letter to human rights organization Reprieve – which is assisting him – Ibrahim wrote that “there are many ways I have been mistreated”, describing regular abuse that includes “beatings, solitary confinement, [being beaten with] the back of an AK47, guns pointed at my chest.” He added that the prison authorities often “torture another prisoner and they make you watch”, and that he has been put in solitary confinement as punishment for complaining about his mistreatment.
Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:
“For the last three years, the Egyptian authorities have made a mockery of justice by dragging out this mass trial. Ibrahim and hundreds of other alleged protestors have been detained at length, horribly mistreated, and threatened with execution.
“Today’s delay – and the suggestion that this Kafkaesque ordeal will start again months from now – is utterly unacceptable. Enough is enough – the Irish government must take urgent steps to secure Ibrahim’s release, and his return to his family in Ireland.”
Notes to editors
1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.