Last edited: February 14, 2005

Closing Arguments Made in "Cairo 52" Case

Datalounge, 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 appealed.

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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