Last edited: January 07, 2005

Egyptian Police Ordered to Explain Gay Arrests, September 9, 2002

By Jon ben Asher

CAIRO—A Cairo judge will allow lawyers for 50 men arrested in a gay club last year to cross examine police. Judge Hassan Al-Sayef issued a summons to the police who were responsible for the arrests to appear in court October 12.

The 50 men are in their second trial on charges of the “habitual practice of debauchery.” During the first trial lawyers were not permitted to question police.

The case dates back to May 10, 2001 when police raided a gay club on a Nile riverboat. 52 men were arrested. While awaiting trial human rights groups said the men were tortured with cattle prods and given forced medical exams to determine if they had engaged in sex.

At their trial, all 52 pleaded innocent. Two men described as the ringleaders of the “homosexual sex club” were handed the stiffest sentences. One defendant was convicted of “contempt for religion” . The other was convicted of “debauchery” and “contempt of religion and given five years of hard labor.

Twenty-one of the remaining defendants were convicted of the debauchery. The other twenty-nine were found not guilty.

After protests from human rights groups, the European Union, Canada, and a group of US congressmen, the Egyptian government ordered a new trial for all but the two “ringleaders”.

The government also vacated the “not guilty” verdicts for the 29 men declared innocent in the first trial and ordered them to be retried

The second trial got underway this summer.

Judge Al-Sayef, in addition to ordering the police officers to appear in court for questioning, approved a motion requesting the daily records of 3 downtown Cairo police stations for the 5 days preceding the raid on the Queen Boat. Defense attorneys have argued that proper arrest procedures had not been not followed, that the arrests had been made at random, and that charges had been fabricated by ambitious vice squad officers.

“The hearing today was encouraging,” stated Scott Long, Program Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

But, he said that anti-gay harassment continues in Egypt.

“At the same time, we are receiving new reports of internet entrapment and continuous arrests of suspected homosexuals in Egypt.”

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