Belfast Telegraph

Trial of Irishman held in Egypt since 2013 nearing end

The prosecution case in the trial in Egypt of a 21-year-old Irishman is to end later this month.

Ibrahim Halawa was incarcerated after being detained during Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo in 2013, and hearings have been adjourned and delayed numerous times over the last four years.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: "I welcome the indications that the trial is now progressing into its final stages."

At the latest hearing in Cairo, more police witnesses were called and the court was told another five more will be called.

The prosecution case will be completed on July 9, Mr Coveney said.

"A team of official Irish observers will again be present in court for that hearing," he said.

"The Irish Government cannot intervene in a case that is before the Egyptian courts.

"What we can do, and what we are doing, is redoubling our efforts to ensure that the Egyptian authorities fulfil the clear commitment which they have given us to resolve this issue as soon as the trial ends, and return Ibrahim Halawa to Ireland."

Mr Halawa, the son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin - Sheikh Hussein Halawa, was imprisoned after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood protested over the removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

He has been tortured and gone on hunger strikes during his imprisonment.

Mr Coveney said he would speak to Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry "as soon as possible to impress upon him how important I believe this matter is, and to reinforce the need for its early resolution".

He added: "I and my officials are working hard towards that goal and we will continue to do so. I am determined to do everything I can as Minister for Foreign Affairs to make sure that Ibrahim Halawa is back home in Ireland with his family as soon as possible."

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny wrote to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pleading for Mr Halawa's release on humanitarian grounds.

Mr el-Sisi said he could be released, but only once the trial has run its course.

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