I will talk to Egyptians, says Kenny as Halawa trial delayed a 16th time
Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he will again speak to the Egyptian president over the African country's continued detention of Dublin student Ibrahim Halawa.
It will be the latest in a series of contacts in the case between Mr Kenny and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Mr Kenny has twice raised the case in face-to-face meetings with el-Sisi and has also written to him over delays in Halawa's trial, which was delayed again yesterday.
The case has been adjourned until December 13, Ibrahim's 21st birthday.
Mr Kenny said he was very disappointed at the 16th adjournment in the case and he said el-Sisi had told him that he could not interfere in Egypt's judicial process.
"He [el-Sisi] has said he can only use his presidential pardon powers once the case has been delivered on," said the Taoiseach.
He said the Government is also supporting an appeal for the student's deportation to Ireland under Egyptian law 140.
"I am concerned about this. It seems to be a case of a different issue every time there is a postponement of the case. We would like to see the case heard so that there can be a conclusion to it," said Mr Kenny.
"It is my intention to contact president el-Sisi again as a matter of urgency, probably in the next week."
Halawa was arrested in August 2013 at a protest in a mosque in Cairo. Egypt has denied claims he has been tortured. The case was adjourned at the weekend because some of the 493 co-accused were unable to appear in court.
The student's London-based barrister Katie O'Byrne said she wasn't surprised by the latest delay in the case.
"It is not legitimate to hold a trial for 494 people in a mass trial and it is not legitimate to delay a case for three-and-a-half years," said the lawyer.
"We're not aware there is any evidence at all against our client, which underlines the point he cannot have a fair trial."
She told RTE news it is still unclear what specific charges Halawa faces because of the limited documents released by the Egyptian prosecutors.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he spoke to the Egyptian ambassador at the weekend to protest about the latest delay in the case.
Ireland's Ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, led an Embassy observer team at the hearing. Embassy officials have attended all hearings to date.
"Our understanding is that the trial has been adjourned until December 13 as a number of the defendants were not present in the court. This is linked to heightened security concerns in Cairo, following planned protests," said Mr Flanagan.
"Our priority remains to see this young man returned to Ireland and to his family as soon as possible.
"The Government will continue to use every possible opportunity to underline our concerns about this case to the Egyptian authorities, both bilaterally and with the EU and other partners."
Halawa has spent 1,184 days in prison. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience based on its own eye-witness evidence "that he could not have carried out the acts he is accused of".