Egypt trial of 494, including Irish teen, postponed for fourth time in six months
February 8, 2015
A court hearing in Cairo in the mass trial of 494 people – including Peter Greste’s young Irish cellmate, teenager Ibrahim Halawa – has been postponed for the fourth time since August last year.
Reports this morning from the makeshift courtroom in Tora prison suggest that the judge has postponed the trial until March 29th. Acknowledging the longstanding problem of the 494 defendants being unable to fit into the room, the authorities said the trial will be moved to a specially-adapted courtroom outside the capital city.
The group of 494 was arrested in a sweeping crackdown on protests in Cairo in August 2013. Today’s postponement, the fourth since proceedings began last year, further lengthens a drawn-out wait to be tried by the 494, who face execution if convicted en masse.
Among the group are several juveniles being tried in violation of Egypt’s Child Laws, such as Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa, who was 17 at the time of his arrest. Mr Halawa, who was sharing a cell with Peter Greste before the Al Jazeera journalist was freed several days ago, has reported being tortured and denied medical attention during his 541 days of detention.
Egypt’s mass trials of protestors have seen hundreds of death sentences handed down throughout a 2-year crackdown on protests that has attracted condemnation from the UN, US, and Egyptian rights groups. Last week, a court handed down death sentences to 183 protestors at once.
Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Halawa, said:
“Today’s hearing is just the latest in a drawn-out and utterly unjust ordeal for Ibrahim Halawa and his 493 co-defendants. These farcical mass trials and sweeping death sentences show that, despite Peter Greste’s release, the Sisi government has little interest in justice. Enough is enough – the international community must call on Egypt to change course and release hundreds of innocents, including Ibrahim, without delay.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: +44 7792 351 660
2. Further background on Ibrahim Halawa’s case can be found here.