CAIRO - The day after 23 presumed homosexuals were sentenced to hard labor in the Emergency State Security Court in Cairo, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned of the arrest of four presumed homosexuals under the same charges. The arrests have been confirmed by the Central Vice Squad in Giza, a suburb of Cairo.
The four men were arrested November 10 and have since been in detention in the Boulak Prison Station in Giza. The detainees are under investigation for "the habitual practice of debauchery" (previously translated in short as "obscene behavior"), the same charge that resulted in convictions and hard labor sentences yesterday. The current detention order lasts until December 30, 2001. Already allegations of police beatings and ill-treatment are surfacing. The four have not been charged yet, and it is not clear whether, if charged they would appear in front of the Emergency State Security Court or a civil court. Additional information about this case, as well as a chronology of events, is attached below.
"This new case is eerily similar to the Cairo 52 case," stated Scott Long, IGLHRC's Program Director. "Presumed homosexuals arrested at random under the same law on prostitution, beaten in prison, and vilified by the media, while police fabricate facts that do not add up." Mr. Long has been following this case, gathering information from one of the defendants and from the two defense lawyers. Mr. Long is in Egypt, where he monitored the November 14 sentencing hearing of the Cairo 52.
"The Cairo 52 is not an isolated case," added Mr. Long. "It is becoming clearer that persecution of homosexuals is a major human rights issue in Egypt. The international community should be clear with Egypt as well in demanding the Egyptian Government to stop these abuses now."
Additional Information About the 4 New Arrests
Chronology: NOV 10 - Four men arrested and detained at the Boulak Police Station in Giza
NOV 11 - The Public Prosecutor's Office in Boulak orders them detained for 4 days
NOV 15 - The Public Prosecutor's Office in Boulak extends detention order for 45 days
DEC 30 - Next hearing due. According to Egyptian law, additional extensions of their detention would have to be ordered by a Renewal Judge at the Giza General Court.
Correction: The arrests were mentioned in Al-Akhbar, not Al-Ahram, as was originally reported. The account of beatings of the four arrested men should be attributed to the only defendant interviewed, not the defense lawyers, as previously reported. We apologize for the error. [Nov 15, 2001]
The Egyptian papers Al-Akbar and Al-Gomhureya reported today four men had been arrested for turning their apartment into a "den of perversion." The Central Vice Squad in Giza confirmed today that the four defendants were detained at the Boulak Police Station in Giza.
Mr. Long gathered additional information from one of the detained men, speaking in tears, through the bars of the police wagon, as he was being shuttled from the Public Prosecutors Office in Boulak back to the Boulak Police Station.
According to his testimony, he was arrested 5 days ago. While in detention he was submitted to beating and humiliating treatment: stripped naked and beaten with batons, splashed with cold water in the face, left hanging by the bars in his prison cell. According to his report, the other three defendants were beaten as well.
The two defense lawyers working on this case provided additional information that casts doubt on the police charges.
According to their testimony, the police claim that all four men were arrested at the same time is not true. All four men were arrested in the street (not in an apartment); one was arrested in Giza Square in Giza; the others three were arrested one by one in various places around Cairo.
Defense lawyers maintain that the police claim that the chief defendant was using his apartment as a "den of prostitution" are also untrue. The chief defendant does not own said apartment and is in no way connected to it.
The defense lawyers further state that four days ago they saw the four defendants in the hallway of the Public Prosecutor's Office. The defendants implored them in tears to take their case, as they had been arrested and had no legal representation at all.
Background Information on the Cairo 52 Case
Emergency State Security Court in Cairo sentenced 23 presumed homosexuals to one to five years of hard labor on November 14. These sentences cannot be appealed. At the same time the Court acquitted 29 additional defendants. The acquitted men remain in detention.
All fifty-two were arrested on the night of the May 10, 2001 in a raid of the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo or in random police pickups during the following days. The 52 have been held in detention since their arrests. Defense lawyers argued that proper arrest procedures were not followed, that the arrests were made at random, and that charges were fabricated after the arrest. There are enough irregularities in the arrests and handling of this case to suggest that the Cairo 52 may have been framed. The State-controlled media engaged in a campaign of vilification against the 52, publishing their names, and creating an environment of scandal around them, branding them perverts, blasphemous, and traitors.
All 52 pleaded innocent. Twenty-one defendants were convicted of "habitual practice of debauchery" under a law against prostitution (Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution). One was convicted of "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. Another one, deemed the "ring leader," was convicted of both and received the heaviest sentencing.
In addition, a teenager, tried in a juvenile court because of his age, was sentenced September 18 to the maximum penalty allowed by law: three years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation. Because of his age, he is allowed to appeal.
The Cairo 52 trials have been condemned by international human rights organizations, members of US Congress and the United Nations.
For background information on the Cairo 52 please see "Egyptian Justice on Trial: The Case of the Cairo 52" at http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2001Oct.html, and "One to Five Years of Hard Labor for 23 Presumed Homosexuals" at http://www.iglhrc.org/news/press/pr_011114.html.