Egypt delays mass trial of Irish juvenile for 19th time

February 14, 2017

An Egyptian judge today postponed the mass trial of Irish juvenile Ibrahim Halawa for the 19th time.

The setback comes despite new evidence showing Ibrahim is being tried under a law that was repealed in the 1920s.

A report issued last month by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies says that Egypt’s 1914 Assembly Law was “incontrovertibly repealed” 89 years ago, in 1928.

However, the prosecution has relied on the provisions of the law to argue that all 494 defendants in Ibrahim’s trial should be sentenced to death on nearly identical charges.

Ibrahim, from Dublin, was swept up after protests in Cairo in 2013, aged just 17.

Today the trial was postponed until 22nd March, after four out of the 494 defendants were not brought to court.

Egypt’s system of mass trials has seen thousands of death sentences handed down since President Sisi took power, and provoked condemnation from the UN, and countries including the US and the UK.

Ibrahim and his co-defendants have reported being regularly tortured in pre-trial detention.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, a deputy director at human rights organization Reprieve – which is assisting Ibrahim – said:

“The judge should throw this case out of court, not keep postponing it. Mass trials are already prohibited under international law, but now it appears that even Egyptian domestic law does not allow for these legal proceedings. Egypt’s courts are relying upon an annulled law to subject Irish juvenile Ibrahim Halawa and 493 others to an unfair trial and potential death sentences. Justice delayed is justice denied – Ibrahim has already spent over 3 years in appalling prison conditions, and will now spend at least another month in jail fearing for his life. He should be returned home to Ireland at once.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [AT] reprieve.org.uk. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on katherine [DOT] oshea [AT] reprieve.org.