Egypt Retrial: Judge Orders Cops to Court
/ PlanetOut.com Network, September 9, 2002
SUMMARY: A judge in the retrial of 50 suspected gay
men in Cairo summoned the arresting officers to next month’s hearing, where
they may be cross-examined for the first time.
In what human rights advocates called progress for the
defense, a judge in the retrial of 50 suspected gay men in Cairo summoned the
arresting officers to next month’s hearing, where they may be cross-examined
for the first time.
During a hearing on Saturday, Judge Hassan Al-Sayef
issued a summons for the officers to appear in court on Oct. 12. He also
requested police records from the days leading up to the arrests, which
occurred on May 10, 2001.
Defense attorneys have contested that police did not
follow proper procedures and that the charges were fabricated.
The defendants were detained while attending a floating
nightclub on the Nile River. They were charged with “habitual practice of
debauchery,” a euphemism for homosexuality, which is not expressly illegal.
During a sensational trial that lasted several months last year, 29 of the men
were acquitted, and 23 were sentenced to prison sentences with labor.
Last May, however, the government threw out all but two
of those convictions and ordered a new trial, even for those who had been
acquitted. The sentences for the two men accused of being “ringleaders”
were the only ones upheld. Officials said the first trial was conducted in the
wrong type of court, and the retrial is proceeding in a misdemeanor court.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
(IGLHRC) called Saturday’s development “encouraging.”
Scott Long, program director for IGLHRC, said in a
statement that reports from Egypt continue to indicate that suspected gay men
are being arrested and “entrapped” through Internet stings.
“We will remain vigilant until all 50 men are declared
innocent, and the harassment stops,” Long said.
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