Last edited: January 07, 2005

Egyptian Human Rights NGOs React to Verdict

Conviction without trial a flagrant violation of basic principles of justice

HMLC, EIPR, and NCRVV, March 15, 2003
Press Release

  • Hisham Mubarak Law Center: Tel/fax: (202) 575 8908- E-mail:

  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights: Tel/fax: (202) 524 0166- E-mail:

  • Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence: Tel/fax: (202) 577 6792- E-mail:

The Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence expressed astonishment and outrage today over the decision by a judge to impose harsher sentences on people convicted of consensual homosexual conduct in the famous “Queen Boat” case. The organizations also condemned the judge’s conduct of the case as a mockery of due process—effectively, a conviction without trial.

Twenty-one out of fifty defendants were found guilty of the “habitual practice of debauchery” by the Qasr al-Nil Court of Misdemeanors this morning and sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by three years of police probation. In the first “Queen Boat” trial, before an Emergency State Security Court in 2001, those defendants had received sentences of one to two years. The judge today revised the verdicts to impose the maximum penalty.

The verdict marked the end of a second ordeal for the defendants, who were subjected to inflammatory publicity during the first trial. The organizations said the latest proceedings, in which defense lawyers were not allowed to present their case, represented a flagrant and scandalous violation of internationally- recognized principles of due process.

The three human rights groups had observed all the hearings in the case since July 2002. The trial was postponed five times, since officers of State Security Intelligence (mabahith amn al-dawla), summoned by the Court to be cross-examined by defense lawyers, consistently failed to appear. However, instead of fining the officers or issuing a warrant demanding their appearance, Chief Judge Mohammed Hassan decided to punish the defendants.

The judge scheduled a verdict without allowing defense attorneys to perform oral arguments or even to submit briefs in writing. The judge also delivered today’s verdict without hearing the testimony of any witnesses.


Thirty-one defendants were arbitrarily arrested on the Queen Boat floating restaurant on 10 May 2001. They were joined on the same night by people who were picked from the streets until the total number of defendants reached fifty-two. Defendants were kept in incommunicado detention for three days, during which they were subjected to torture later documented in official prosecution and medical reports—though no investigation into the acts of torture was ever carried out. All defendants were later referred to an exceptional court established under Egypt’s Emergency Law. On 14 November 2001, the Emergency State Security Court of Misdemeanors acquitted twenty-nine defendants and sentenced twenty-three others to between one and five years in prison.

In June 2002 the presidential Office for the Ratification of Verdicts cancelled the guilty and innocent verdicts of fifty defendants—including twenty-one of those convicted—and ordered their retrial before an ordinary misdemeanors court. Prisoners were released after paying a bond of 500 LE.

Hearings in the retrial were held on 27 July, 7 September, 12 October, 2 November, 21 December and 25 January. The Chief Judge postponed the case at each hearing, in the absence of State Security Intelligence officers who had been called as witnesses. However, in violation of the principles of fair trial, the judge proceeded to a verdict without ever hearing the case.

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