26 gay Egyptians were acquitted of “debauchery” after being caught having sex in a bathhouse in December.
This verdict is the first time a trial court has ever acquitted men accused of homosexuality in a high-profile case. Usually depending upon police testimony, the defense lawyers feared that the men would be found guilty of the charges brought against them.
In December, reporters claimed that the bathhouse was used for “group perversions” which was grounds for a police raid. The men involved were forced from the bathhouse in a near-nude state and arrested for “debauchery”.
Mona Iraqi, a reporter with El Mostakbai, from the Al-Qahira wal Nas channel, posted pictures of the men, adding, “With pictures, we reveal the biggest den of perversions in the heart of Cairo.”
Iraqi also posted that, a week before the raid, she and her team had told police “about what is happening in the baths”, but that the broadcast of their programme was delayed in order “to give security institutions a chance to close down the baths”. She claimed that upon arrival, police found the men “caught in the act during a group sex party.”
However, according to a forensic team, there was no evidence that these acts actually took place.
With the verdict comes a countersuit brought about by the human rights lawyers involved in this case; Tarek el-Awady has said that he will bring a case against the officer who made a false statement, and against Iraqi stating, “I will not let her rest until the end of her life.”
Defense lawyer Rousdy Abo-Seada told BuzzFeed News that Lt. Col. Ahmed Hashad’s account of what he saw in the bathhouse was too perfect to be true. They are suing as they believe that he could not have seen these acts with such vivid detail in a dark and steamy room.
According to another defense lawyer, Mohamed Zaki, one of the men arrested had been raped in police custody. He claimed that he had been offered to other prisoners as a ‘treat’, before being raped by numerous men. The victim would not allow his story to be used in a countersuit as it is so shameful for an Egyptian man to be penetrated.
“How can he stand in the court and say he has been penetrated?” Zaki said. “Even if we can prove that he was raped inside the police station, this will never clear his reputation … once you have been penetrated, you are not considered a man.”
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