Egyptian Court Agrees to Make Police Testify in Gay Sex Trial
France-Presse, September 8, 2002
CAIRO—A Cairo court on Saturday heard the defence
lawyers of 50 Egyptians accused of gay sex, and agreed to their request to
make the police officers who arrested them testify before the court.
Hassan Al Sayess, the presiding judge at the Abdine criminal court in
central Cairo, said the three police officers will testify at the next
hearing, set for Oct. 12.
The group of men, most of them in their 20s, are not held in custody and
four of them showed up in court for the trial that opened on July 27.
One of their lawyers, Mahmud Abdul Al, repeated that his clients were
innocent, and asked the judge to permit a cross-examination of the police
The defendants were reportedly arrested following a May 11, 2001, evening
on the Queen Boat nightclub on the Nile.
Homosexuality is not explicitly prohibited under Egyptian law which is
based on Sharia, or Islamic, rulings, although numerous statutes condemn
conduct deemed to be an affront to public morality.
The group underwent a first trial by the state security court which
sentenced 23 of the men to prison last November, mostly for one to two years,
on charges related to practising homosexuality, and acquitted 29 others.
But President Hosni Mubarak, empowered to cancel judgements and grant
amnesties, ordered their retrial in May, saying the case did not fall under
the jurisdiction of the state security court.
However, he upheld jail terms against the two leading defendants, Sherif
Farahat and Mahmud Ahmed Allam, of five and three years respectively after
they were accused of "scorning religion." Farahat was also charged
with "sexual practices contrary to Islam."
When the first trial opened on July 18, 2001, it sparked protests from
Western gay rights groups and human rights organisations.
Pressure from Western officials continued until Mubarak’s decision to
throw out the verdicts and order a retrial.
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