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Egyptian court acquits 26 men in 'gay bathhouse' case

Egypt's forensic medicine authority was unable to determine whether or not the defendants were involved in homosexual acts

Reem Gehad , Tuesday 13 Jan 2015
Gays
Men who were arrested in a televised raid last month by police looking for gays at a Cairo public bathhouse, hide their faces after an Egyptian court acquitted them in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Twenty-six Egyptian men were found innocent of 'debauchery' after being arrested for allegedly holding gay orgies in a Cairo bath house.

Police had raided the bathhouse after receiving a tip from television journalist Mona Iraqi who claimed on her show in early December that the men pay for private gay sex parties at the bath house in downtown Cairo.

Iraqi was photographed during the raid taking pictures of the men being dragged semi-naked out of the bath house by the police, a scene that caused widespread controversy.

During investigations, Egypt's forensic medicine authority said that medical tests could not conclude whether the defendants were engaged in "homosexual acts" or not.

The authority also stated that the medical examination revealed that three of the young men had been sexually assaulted.

The court argued that the evidence provided was not sufficient, adding that the forensics showed no evidence that the accused had engaged in homosexual acts.

"Despite the fact that forensic examination showed that three of the accused had recently engaged in debauchery, it has not been proven that this took place inside the bathhouse," the court report said.

The prosecution has appealed the verdict.

Tarek El-Awady, a defence lawyer for the defendants, told Ahram Online that the families and defence team will wait for television channel Al-Qahera Wal Nas, home to Iraqi's show, to issue an apology Monday. He also suggested that the channel investigate the show's crew.

If an investigation is not forthcoming, El-Awady stated that families will file a lawsuit against Iraqi.

Meanwhile, some Egyptians on social media outlets have been campaigning actively against Iraqi calling on authorities to put her on trial for defamation and entrapment.

Twitter user Sarah Othmann (@Sarah_Othmann) said in a tweet (originally written in Arabic): "Can Mona Iraqi raid the luxurious health clubs and spas in five-star hotels like she did at the Bab El-Bahr bath house?"

The public bath house is located in Cairo's downtown Ramsis area.  

User One Near East (@neareastern) said (in Arabic), "Homosexuality is not a crime! They are innocent of the prostitution claims Mona El-Iraqi made."

Similarly, Hadeer Hassan (@hadeer7assan) said (in Arabic), "The defendants were acquitted and Mona El-Iraqi is responsible for defaming them, breaching her profession and the law without evidence."

People on social media used a hashtag "Put Mona Iraqi on trial" (in Arabic) in their tweets. They also called for putting the owner of television channel Al-Qahera Wal Nas on trial.

Although homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, those suspected of homosexual acts are often charged under a law that prohibits “debauchery” and indecent public acts.

In late 2014, Egypt sentenced eight men to one year in jail following a 'gay wedding' video released online.

In a different case in September, an Egyptian court sentenced six allegedly homosexual men to two years in jail with labour for the same charges of "committing debauchery." The six men were arrested during a raid on an apartment.

In recent months, police has raided apartments and locations they describe as brothels in an apparent "get tough on morality" campaign.

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