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Sydney Levy, IGLHRC, +1-415-577-8680 (cell), email@example.com
SAN FRANCISCO - The second trial of 50 of the "Cairo 52" men opened 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.
"A second trial will double the injustices of the first one," stated Scott Long, Program Director at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "Bringing people to trial because of their suspected homosexuality was wrong the first time around, and remains wrong today."
"Retrying people who have already been acquitted violates basic fairness, and basic protections in international law," concluded Mr. Long.
The hearing started at 10:30 am at the Qasr-al-Nil Misdemeanors Court in Cairo, and lasted only 15 minutes. The trial was presided by Judge Abdel Karim, who was criticized by attorneys for showing bias in the first trial, which he had presided as well. Judge Abdel Karim withdrew voluntarily from the case.
The case will be referred to another judge within the same circuit court. The name of the new judge and the date of the next session will be announced on 16 July.
There was no warrant for rearresting the defendants; they remain free for now.
The "Cairo 52" 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,"
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.
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