Last edited: December 05, 2004

Egypt Gay Trial Judge Steps Down

Trial Delayed Newscenter, July 2, 2002

By Jon ben Asher

CAIRO—50 Egyptian men facing a new trial in a case that has drawn international condemnation remain free on bail while the government looks for a new judge.

Judge Mohammed Abdel Karim had been assigned the case again through a random selection process. Karim told the court in Cairo today that he would not hear the case since he had presided over the the original trial.

Karim was criticized by defence attorneys at the first trial for appearing to favour the prosecution.

A new judge is expected to named July 16.

The men had been arrested in a gay nightclub on a Nile riverboat last year. In November 29 defendants were found not guilty on charges of debauchery. 23 were convicted and sentenced to between one and five years hard labour.

Two of the 23, said to have been the ringleaders of an orgy at the club, received the stiffest sentences. They were not given new trials.

The San Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission denounced the retrial.

"Retrying people who have already been acquitted violates basic fairness, and basic protections in international law," said Scott Long, IGLHRC Program Director.

"We also know that one of the convicted men, who has already served his one-year sentence and been released, must now return for a new trial. He could be sentenced to even more time in prison."

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