An Egyptian court extended late on Monday the detention of alleged serial rapist Ahmed Bassam Zaki for 15 days pending investigation into allegations made by dozens of women over the past few days.
Zaki was arrested on Saturday after dozens of women took to social media to accuse him of rape, sexual assault, and blackmail.
The country’s prosecutor-general had ordered earlier on Monday that Zaki be detained for four days pending investigations into the case, which has sparked outrage in the country.
Zaki is facing charges of attempting to have sex with two females without their consent and committing "indecent assault against them and a third girl using force and threat.” One of the three females was a minor at the time, the office of the prosecutor-general said in a statement on Monday.
Zaki is also accused of using blackmail in attempts to coerce women into granting him sexual favours.
Zaki, who is in his early twenties, was arrested one day after the public prosecution received an official complaint from a woman who claimed the man blackmailed her in November 2016 in an attempt to force her to have sex with him.
The young woman was encouraged to file charges after an online campaign was launched last week where dozens of women anonymously accused Zaki of committing a multitude of sexual crimes. Some of the victims shared messages and recorded phone calls with him that purportedly support their claims.
Prosecutors questioned the woman who filed charges against Zaki, where she alleged that Zaki attempted to coerce her into engaging in a sexual relationship by threatening to use his “influence” to defame her and claim she was involved in prostitution and drug use.
Prosecutors also questioned four other young women and an underage female who said that Zaki sexually assaulted them after luring them to his gated community and other places.
The women told investigators that they managed to resist the assault and flee, but Zaki continued stalking and extorting them using photos he took during the assault.
The victims also submitted to the prosecution what they said were online messages Zaki had sent them.
Zaki confessed that he blackmailed six women with whom he had previously been in a relationship, using explicit images of them that they had shared with him. He has denied all the other accusations made against him on social media over the past few days.
Under the Egyptian penal code, rape and sexual assault can be punished with jail terms of up to a life sentence. The addition of aggravating circumstances could lead to the death penalty.
Following the attention the case has garnered, Egypt’s top Muslim authorities of Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta issued statements saying that sexual harassment violates religious teachings. They also condemned any attempt to blame victims and called on the public to support abused women and encourage them to come forward.
The National Council of Women, which had lodged an official complaint with the prosecutor-general over this case, has hailed the authorities for moving swiftly to arrest Zaki.
The council had said earlier that it had been contacted by several victims who recounted they were blackmailed by Zaki.