Last edited: December 06, 2004

Gay Retrial in Egypt Postponed

The Data Lounge, July 2, 2002

CAIRO, Egypt—The judge assigned to preside over the retrial of 50 Egyptian men who were detained last May in a government raid on the predominantly gay Queen Boat nightclub, recused himself from the case on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports Judge Mohammed Abdel Karim, who had been assigned the case at random, said that his involvement in the original case should disqualify him from presiding over the retrial. A new judge is expected to be named July 16.

Of the 52 men detained and charged by the local authorities in the anti-gay sweep on the floating nightclub last year, Abdel Karim acquitted 29 defendants and convicted 23. Sentences ranged from one to five years.

Human rights officials complained that many of those detained were subjected to invasive anal "examinations" to determine whether they engaged in intercourse. Many said they were subjected to regular torture and beatings.

In response to concerted international pressure, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak threw out the convictions and ordered a retrial for all but the two main defendants. He said the charges against them were not serious enough to warrant trial in an emergency court.

The president in his capacity as the military ruler must approve sentences of emergency courts. Egypt’s emergency laws have been in effect since 1981.

Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission denounced the retrial. "We are clearly concerned at the decision of the Egyptian authorities to prosecute these men once again on charges which are discriminatory and violate their right to privacy," Amnesty said in statement Tuesday.

In a statement last week, IGLHRC accused the Egyptian government of "inflicting the indignity of another trial on these men" and flouting an international legal principle that prohibits trying someone for an offense for which he or she has been already tried.

None of the 21 men who were convicted and released on bond appeared in court Tuesday.

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