"Cairo 52" Convicts to Be Released Pending Prosecutor’s Decision:
IGLHRC Calls for an End to Trials
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, May 26, 2002
For additional information, contact:
Sydney Levy, IGLHRC, +1-415-577-8680 (cell), email@example.com
Scott Long, IGLHRC, +1-212-216-1814, firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today
called on Egyptian prosecutors not to launch new trials against 50 men already
subjected to a sham trial for homosexual conduct last year.
"We are cautiously optimistic at news that guilty verdicts in the case
have actually been cancelled," said Scott Long, IGLHRC’s Program
Director, who has been following the case closely since the beginning.
"But renewed prosecution would be renewed persecution. These trials must
IGLHRC was encouraged by the Egyptian government’s decision to cancel the
verdicts against men convicted of the "habitual practice of
debauchery." Initial press reports last week held that President Hosni
Mubarak had ordered a full retrial for 50 of the 52 defendants in the
notorious case—including 29 men who were acquitted as well as 21 who were
convicted. IGLHRC has learned that these reports were inaccurate. Instead,
officials actually annulled the verdicts in all those 50 cases. Both guilty
and innocent verdicts were sent back to prosecutors, who will now have the
power to decide whether to seek a retrial.
The Ministry of Interior ordered that the 21 men in prison be released on
bail, pending the prosecutors’ decision whether to try them again. Most will
be freed within days or weeks. However, prosecutors may still decide to seek a
retrial not only for those men but for the 29 acquitted. Any retrial would be
held in an ordinarily court, rather than an Emergency State Security Court—a
repressive" anti-terrorist" court which heard the original case, and
which does not allow appeal.
"At the same time," added Mr. Long, "the prison sentences of
two men in this case have been confirmed—and many other suspected gay men
across Egypt remain in prison. We must continue to press the Egyptian
government to meet its international obligations, not just in a few symbolic
cases, but across the board."
President Mubarak apparently cancelled the verdicts of all the men who were
charged only with "habitual practice of debauchery," in a tacit
admission that that charge does not, under Egyptian law, merit a trial before
an Emergency State Security Court. At the same time, he confirmed the harsh
verdicts against two men in the same case who were convicted of "contempt
"The President continues to lend his endorsement to the Emergency
State Security Courts," said Mr. Long—"courts routinely used to
suppress peaceful dissent, and which violate any standard for a fair trial.
And the President’s decision also baldly declares that freedom of religion
and freedom of expression do not exist in Egypt."
The 52 men in the case were arrested on or around the night of May 10/11,
2001. That night, police raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo; other
police pickups followed in the next days. The 52 were tortured, and jailed
until their trial. Defense lawyers argued that proper arrest procedures were
not followed, that the arrests were made at random, and that charges were
fabricated by ambitious vice squad officers. The State-controlled media
engaged in a campaign of vilification against the 52, publishing their names
and branding them perverts, blasphemers, and traitors.
All 52 pleaded innocent. In the November 14 verdict, 21 defendants were
convicted of "habitual practice of debauchery" under Article 9(c) of
Law 10/1961 (on the Combat of Prostitution). One defendant was convicted of
"contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. Another
defendant, accused of being the "ringleader," was convicted of both
charges and received the heaviest sentence, five years at hard labor. Those
last two defendants will still serve their terms, according to the
For additional background information, see http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/#Egypt
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