Lawyers urge maximum pressure to free Ibrahim Halawa from custody in Egypt
Lawyers for an Irishman jailed in Egypt for the past three years over political protests have called on the Government to put maximum pressure on efforts to free him.
After Ibrahim Halawa's trial was adjourned on Sunday for another month, his legal team pleaded for diplomats in Dublin, Europe and Cairo to ratchet up attempts to get him home.
From Firhouse in Dublin, he was detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of their elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.
His lawyer, Darragh Mackin of Belfast-based KRW Law, said the latest delay was not a surprise as the hearing had been scheduled on an Egyptian holiday, but that they remain extremely concerned.
He said the trial process essentially restarted in June when a new panel was charged with reviewing video evidence.
Mr Mackin called on the Government and other European nations to demand Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi act on an application for a decree to secure his release.
"We are calling on the Irish Government and the wider international community. But the reality is that any of the European Union nations have their part to play, as Ibrahim is a European citizen," he said.
"We have lodged a fresh application (for a presidential decree) and the grounds behind that are the delay in the case. It applies to those who are not convicted prisoners."
Mr Halawa was detained with 493 others on charges which could ultimately see him face the death penalty.
His family claim he has been tortured, suffered electric shocks, beatings, been spat on and moved without their knowledge during his time in custody with several hundred others over the protests.
Mr Mackin said the latest adjournment in the trial strengthens the case for Mr Halawa to be freed under a presidential order and deported back to Ireland.
He said the legal team understands that the application is being actively considered.
"It is with this in mind that the maximum pressure must now be brought to bear, to ensure that it is met with the appropriate response," Mr Mackin said.
"Today's development unequivocally strengthens the requirement for the Egyptian president to now directly intervene and ensure he is returned back to Ireland. Such an outcome, in light of today's development, is the only option that remains to ensure that Egypt respects its obligations under international law."
Mr Halawa's case is due back before a Cairo court on November 12.
One of the last contacts he had with his family was a letter he wrote over a week ago to mark when he should have been graduating from university.
Mr Halawa wrote: "In this college I'm obliged to live with a broad diversity of inmates. From presidential consultants and college professors to illiterate criminals which taught me to seek the real human being behind every social rank."
Amnesty International Ireland director Colm O'Gorman said: "This young Irish citizen has spent more than three years living in horrific conditions, without access to proper medical care, and without any prospect of a fair trial. His horrific testimony catalogues a series of human rights abuses.
"While Amnesty International has not as yet been able to review this information, we take such allegations very seriously."
Amnesty is to protest at the Egyptian embassy in Dublin on Monday over Mr Halawa's prolonged detention.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan raised Mr Halawa's case with Egypt's Ambassador to Ireland Soha Gendi following the latest adjournment, the 15th in the case.
The minister said both he and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have written to Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and President el-Sisi setting out their support for the presidential decree.
"The Government is continuing to use every possible opportunity to underline our concerns about this case to the Egyptian Government, and also with the EU," he said.
"I want to reaffirm to Ibrahim, his family and his friends of my own and the Government's ongoing commitment to secure his return to Ireland as soon as possible and to ensure his welfare during his detention."
Mr Flanagan said the case was a high priority for him and he said officials were working closely with Mr Halawa's lawyers and the family.