Egypt Trial Defense Finds Fault with Case
Reuters, September 19, 2001
SUMMARY: Egyptian lawyers of 52 suspected homosexual men charged with
sexual immorality told a Cairo court on Wednesday the prosecutions case was
based on false information.
CAIRO Egyptian lawyers of 52 suspected homosexual
men charged with sexual immorality told a Cairo court on Wednesday the
prosecutions case was based on false information, security sources said.
The defendants broke down in tears and hysterics throughout the nearly
seven-hour session, and one threatened to kill himself if found guilty.
The defense in the sensational "gay" trial said the case was
based on false information after prosecutors submitted a memorandum to the
court on Wednesday correcting the names of four defendants.
The prosecution said the four had been using false names throughout
investigations and questioning.
All 52 men face charges of "practicing sexual immorality" with a
maximum penalty of three years in jail and a minimum fine of 300 Egyptian
The two main defendants face additional charges of "forming a group
which aims to exploit the Islamic religion to propagate extremist ideas"
and "denigrating monotheistic religions," which carry a maximum
sentence of five years.
On Tuesday, an Egyptian court found a 15-year-old boy guilty of
"practicing sexual immorality," a local euphemism for homosexuality,
and sentenced him to three years in juvenile detention.
The youth, one of 53 men arrested in May during a raid on a floating
night-club called the "Queen Boat," was tried in a different court
because he is a minor.
Three years was the maximum sentence he could receive, but he can appeal
against the verdict.
The cases have drawn sharp criticism from international rights groups that
say the men are being tried for their possible sexual orientation and for
exercising freedom of speech and association.
All defendants pleaded not guilty.
Homosexuality is regarded as a taboo in Egypt, but is not expressly
prohibited by law.
The hearings are due to continue on Oct. 3.
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