Egypt: Trial of Suspected Homosexuals Continues in Cairo

For Immediate Release: September 7, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO - The second trial of 50 of the "Cairo 52" men continued in Cairo today. The 50 defendants include both those who were acquitted as well as those who were convicted in an earlier trial that ended November 14, 2001.

At today's hearing, Judge Hassan Al-Sayef took steps favorable to the defense. The Judge issued a summons to the police who were responsible for the Queen Boat arrests; at the next hearing, these police officers may be submitted to cross-examination for the first time. Judge Al-Sayef also approved a motion requesting daily records of 3 downtown police stations for the 5 days preceding the raid of the Queen Boat in the night of May 10/11, 2001. Defense attorneys have argued that proper arrest procedures had not been not followed, that the arrests had been made at random, and that charges had been fabricated by ambitious vice squad officers.

"The hearing today was encouraging," stated Scott Long, Program Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). "At the same time, we are receiving new reports of internet entrapment and continuous arrests of suspected homosexuals in Egypt. We will remain vigilant until all 50 men are declared innocent, and the harassment stops."

The defendants were first arrested on or around the night of May 10/11, 2001. That night, police raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo, believed to be a gay men's gathering place; other police pickups followed in the next days. The 52 were tortured in detention, and jailed continuously until their trial. (For more information on procedural irregularities and abuses surrounding the trial, see IGLHRC's Fact Sheet, "Egyptian Justice on Trial: The Case of the Cairo 52," at http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2001Oct.html.)

All 52 pleaded innocent. The verdicts were handed down on November 14, 2001, at a hearing attended by a representative of IGLHRC, among others. Twenty-one defendants were convicted of the "habitual practice of debauchery" under Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961 (on the Combat of Prostitution). One defendant was convicted of "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. Another defendant, accused of being the "ringleader," was convicted of both charges and received the heaviest sentence, five years of hard labor.

In late May, the State Security Office for the Ratification of Verdicts--an arm of the Egyptian presidency which is the only possible review for decisions of Emergency State Security Courts--cancelled the court decisions in the 50 cases involving the "habitual practice of debauchery." The grounds were that this crime did not merit trial before the repressive special courts. The convictions of the two defendants for "contempt of religion" were upheld. All but those two now face a second trial.

For additional background information and an action alert, see http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/index.html#Egypt

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The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.