Egypt's general prosecutor Hamada al-Sawy (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s general prosecution said in a statement on Wednesday that measures have been taken to legally pursue seven fugitives accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Cairo's Fairmont Nile City Hotel in 2014.
The prosecution received a report from the interior ministry's general department for criminal investigations on Tuesday indicating that seven of the defendants had already left the country via Cairo airport.
Investigations are underway to identify the fugitives' whereabouts from flight records and to take legal action against them, the statement said.
Efforts are underway to identify the whereabouts of two other defendants involved in the incident who are still in Egypt, one of whom faces similar sexual assault accusations in a separate incident, read the statement
The alleged sexual assault, dating to August 2014, surfaced in July in accounts on social media.
An anonymous Instagram account published posts accusing a group of young men of being involved in a gang rape following a party at the hotel.
It has gained widespread attention on social media, spawning viral hashtags in Arabic and English, including “#Fairmont incident.”
Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy ordered an investigation into the alleged crime after he received a letter from the National Council of Women (NCW) about the incident on 4 August.
On Monday, the prosecution said in a separate statement that it had ordered the arrest of the men accused of sexual assault in relation to the incident and had issued a travel ban against them.
According to Wednesday’s statement, the investigations revealed that the defendants had left the country before the victim submitted her official report to the NCW on 4 August and also before the prosecution began conducting investigations into the incident.
This, the statement said, was due to the promotion of the defendants’ names and pictures on social media before the prosecution received the victim's report.
Upon receiving the official report, the Wednesday statement said, the prosecution included the defendants whose data was available on the travel ban list, and included the rest as soon as their data became available.
Two of the accused left the country on 27 July, four others the next day, and one more on 29 July, the prosecution said.
In statements to AFP last month, Fairmont Nile City Hotel administration said there is an ongoing internal investigation into the allegation.
This is the second sexual assault case that has sparked public outcry in the past two months; former American University in Cairo student Ahmed Bassam Zaki was accused in viral online posts of multiple sexual assaults and subsequently arrested.
Zaki is facing charges of attempting to have sex with two women, including a minor, without their consent. He is also accused of using blackmail to coerce women into granting him sexual favours.
He is currently in detention.