Cairo 52: activists await final sentence
An IGLHRC Representative to monitor hearing in Cairo
AIRO - The Emergency State Security Court in Cairo is set to deliver final sentences tomorrow, November 14, in the case of the 52 men detained since May because of their presumed homosexuality. These sentences cannot be appealed.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has sent Scott Long, its Program Director, to Egypt to monitor the hearing and to gather further evidence about conditions of detention and beatings of the jailed men.
"We have been following this case since its inception in May," stated Surina Khan, IGLHRC's Executive Director. "The more we learn about this case, the worse it gets. Mr. Long is in Egypt now and he will be present at the final hearing tomorrow. He will be available to the media after the sentences are delivered."
"Even today we continue to receive from Egypt new allegations of torture and abuse of the men in detention," said Sydney Levy, IGLHRC's Communications Director. "The time has come for President Mubarak to intervene directly, release the Cairo 52, and put an end to this perversion of justice."
IGLHRC's advocate in Egypt has gathered the account of one of the detainees that corroborates previous testimonies of beatings and of forensic exams to "prove their homosexuality" in the days following the arrests. This account presents a troublesome picture of conditions of detention. All 52 men are currently detained in two cramped cells, without beds. Inside the cells they are forbidden from any activity other than washing their clothes, eating, and sleeping. Those with chronic medical illnesses (such asthma or diabetes) depend on medicines brought in by their relatives after bribing prison guards. The 52 men in detention are allowed out of their narrow cells only two hours a day (one hour in the morning and another at sunset). They are only allowed to receive visits from lawyers and first degree relatives (siblings, parents, or spouses).
The Cairo 52 were arrested on the night of May 10, 2001 and in the following days. They have been in detention since. Fifty defendants are all charged with "obscene behavior" under a law against prostitution (Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution). Two more men are charged, in addition, with "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. The trial began on July 18. All 52 have pleaded innocent and have presented individual defenses. There are enough irregularities in the arrests and handling of this case to suggest that the Cairo 52 may have been framed.
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.
These trials have been condemned by international human rights organizations, members of US Congress and the United Nations.
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