First Tahrir harassment case adjourned, future sessions closed to public

Ahram Online, Wednesday 25 Jun 2014

At least five cases of sexual harassment were documented in early June for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's inaugural celebrations

Women chant slogans
Women chant slogans as they gather to protest against sexual harassment in front of the opera house in Cairo June 14, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

The first court case of 12 defendants accused of harassing women in Tahrir Square during celebrations for Egypt's new president has been adjourned to 29 June.

The judge decided that all further case sessions will be carried out in a private deliberation room due to the sensitivity of the case and to safeguard the victims' privacy.

During Wednesday's session, a sister of one of the victims spoke out, saying that the victims had lost their humanity and refused to listen to the victim's pleas of mercy.

She asked the court to give the defendants the death sentence.

The defendants turned their backs to hide their identities, but the judge ordered them to turn around and face the court.

Meanwhile, one of the defendants denied being near the crime scene. "I swear to God we didn't even go to [Tahrir] Square," he said.

The defendants were referred to criminal court on 14 June on charges of abducting the victims during celebrations for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's inauguration. The charges allege that the defendants sexually assaulted the victims with force, physically tortured them and attempted to rob, murder and rape them.

The defendants' ages range from 16 to 49 years old.

At least five cases of mob sexual harassment were documented from June 3-8 for El-Sisi's inauguration.

A graphic video of a mob harassing and stripping a woman of her clothes circulated online earlier this month, despite recent efforts from Egypt's government to enforce harsher punishments on sexual harassers.

A law introduced by former interim president Adly Mansour on Thursday, days before he handed over power to El-Sisi, stipulates penalties of at least a year in jail and a fine of at least LE3,000 ($419) for sexual harassment.

The law also broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include verbal harassment, sexual gestures or harassment through phones or other means of communication.

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