Closing Arguments Made in "Cairo 52" Case
October 15, 2001
CAIRO, Egypt—In closing arguments, defense lawyers
told a court in Cairo that the 52 men held on charges of "deriding
religion" and "committing immoral acts" should be released, as
the case presented against them was based on questionable evidence and bad
police work. The Q-Weekly in South Africa reports defense lawyers argued that
all 52 cases should be dismissed on the grounds of false arrest, improper
arrest procedures, falsified evidence, police intimidation and torture.
Defense lawyers told the court that four of the defendants had given false
names and addresses and therefore police testimony that the men had been under
surveillance at those addresses could not be credible.
A young lawyer for the defense, Fawzy El Haggan, told the court the same
group of investigating officers led by Taha el Embaby had been faulted by a
civil court last year for manufacturing witness statements and presenting a
case lacking in credible evidence—the same faults of the current case. The
charges against 150 in that mass arrest were dismissed. The results of
invasive rectal examinations conducted by forensic specialists on the
prisoners—offered to the court as "proof of homosexuality"—were
also called into question. El Haggan noted that both the Cairo and Alexandria
forensics departments were officially being investigated only a few days after
the reports on this case were written.
While the lawyers voiced optimism that the judge would dismiss charges
against most of the men, they note ominously the emergency court did not
operate by the same rules as Egypt’s civil courts. Others noted the
emergency court was much more susceptible to political pressure "from
higher up" and that pressure to find the defendants guilty was strong.
The court will reconvene on November 14 and the verdict announced. Since
the hearing did not take place in a civil court, the judgment cannot be
Meanwhile, witnesses have told Q-Weekly the anti-gay crackdown in Egypt is
accelerating. An unknown number of arrests were recently made in Heliopolis, a
suburb of Cairo. Fifteen others were arrested at a private party in Haram,
also a Cairo suburb.
The Egyptian government has banned reports on the anti-gay arrests and the
Egyptian press is not allowed to publish any news about them. The news
blackout followed an international outcry over the "Cairo 52" last
month and letters of protest from European governments, the U.S. House of
Representatives, Amnesty International, the International Gay and Lesbian
Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Watch.
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