Egyptian Teen Sentenced in Gay Trial
September 19, 2001
CAIRO, Egypt In the first sentence handed down in
Egypts trial of 52 gay and bisexual men, a 15-year-old has been sentenced
to three years in prison for "practicing homosexuality," the
Associated Press reports.
The trial, which has drawn the condemnation of international human rights
groups and objections from the West, followed a May 11 government raid on the
Queen Boat nightclub, once a popular gay club in central Cairo.
The youth, who was found guilty of homosexuality and debauchery, will serve
his sentence in a prison for young offenders, a juvenile court ordered. The
youth screamed and sobbed as the verdict was read. The court said he underwent
a medical examination that proved he had committed debauchery.
Court observers say the doctors report cited by the prosecution is
linked to reports made by human rights groups that the prisoners have been
forced to undergo invasive rectal examinations.
Ashraf al-Zannati, an Arabic language teacher at the British Council in
Cairo, said earlier this month through the iron bars of the courtroom cage
that the defendants were subjected to a weekly "session of torture."
Egyptian human rights activist Gasser Abdel-Razek told the Associated Press
the ruling was "alarming (because) I believe it is based on what the
judge thinks is socially acceptable or rejected, which ruins the whole concept
of the rule of law."
The trial of 52 other defendants, which is being conducted in an emergency
state security court, is expected to resume Wednesday. They have all pleaded
The court said it ordered the maximum penalty after the youth confessed to
practicing homosexuality and being a member of a gay organization. Defense
lawyers earlier disputed confessions of some of the defendants, saying they
were made under duress during interrogation.
Defense lawyer Farid al-Dib has suggested that confessions had been forced
out of the defendants and urged the presiding judge to dismiss the charges,
arguing that the state prosecutions had been fabricated. "The whole
case, from beginning to end, has been oppression upon oppression," Dib
told the court. He maintained that none of the accused were gay.
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