The trial of Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt has been adjourned yet again, while his lawyers were barred from a legal hearing.
Mr Halawa, whose hearing has been postponed numerous times already, is now set to face trial on October 4. The 19-year-old, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been detained in Cairo for almost two years.
The student and three of his sisters were arrested after taking part in a protest. Mr Halawa’s sister Nosayba said: “I am angry and frustrated and upset. If you are talking about justice and equality and freedom of speech and all those big sentences, when you come to be realistic this is what we see.
“Where are the human rights, all the normal, ordinary people, where are their rights?” She claimed the world was simply watching them be imprisoned.
Solicitor Darragh Mackin said: “Not allowing a lawyer to access his client’s hearing is gravely concerning and belies any suggestion that fair trial requirements are being met.
“Our client, Ibrahim Halawa, has now been held for almost two years without trial. We are concerned that there has been yet another delay, this time of a further two months.” He called on the Irish Government to help secure his client’s swift release.
The siblings, whose father Sheikh Hussein Halawa is the imam of Ireland’s largest mosque, sought sanctuary in the Al Fateh mosque amid violent clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and the security forces.
Mr Mackin and colleague Gavin Booth from KRW Law Belfast travelled to Cairo, expecting the trial to take place. Upon reaching the court inside Wadi El Natrun Prison they were refused access at the gate.
Mr Halawa’s family, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, and Reprieve – a human rights charity specialising in the death penalty – were also denied access to Mr Halawa’s hearing, part of a mass trial in which 494 are accused.
Mr Halawa has been dubbed a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Officials from the Irish Embassy in Cairo were at the hearing. The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan told RTÉ he was disappointed the case has been further postponed because of the non-attendance of a number of witnesses.
He said he has regularly emphasised to his Egyptian counterpart Same Shoury the importance of due process in Mr Halawa’s case and highlighted the Government’s concern at the continued detention on remand.
Mr Flanagan said he had spoken to Mr Shoury and “strongly reaffirmed the Government’s deep interest in Ibrahim’s welfare”.
Embassy officials visited Mr Halawa and the case is being followed “extremely closely” by his department and officials in Cairo.