Egypt prosecutor refers 'Fairmont incident' defendants to court over second rape

Three defendants in gang-rape case accused of second sexual assault

A picture shows Egypt’s High Court in downtown Cairo on January 1, 2015, during the hearing of three Al-Jazeera reporters on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's top court ordered a retrial of the three Al-Jazeera reporters whose imprisonment on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood triggered global outrage, but kept them in custody pending a new hearing. Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed of the broadcaster's English service were detained in December 2013. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI / AFP)
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Egypt’s public prosecutor has referred three defendants in a high-profile gang-rape case to Criminal Court over the alleged rape of another woman in 2015.

Sherif El Koumi, Youssef Qarra and Amir Zayed are accused of raping a woman in a resort on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, the prosecutor said.

The three accused were among nine defendants in the "Fairmont incident" case concerning a woman who was drugged and raped in a Cairo hotel. The crime sparked outrage in Egypt.

Evidence against the three defendants in the second rape case included testimonies from the victim and six witnesses.

Forensic data matching the victim and one of the defendants was also supplied by the Ministry of Interior, the prosecutor said.

Reda Eldanbouki, executive director of the Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness, said the referral “shows that, even though these incidents happened a long time ago, the voices of the victims were able to reach the public prosecution”.

Video footage, reportedly of two defendants in the new case sexually assaulting the victim, was submitted to the public prosecution as part of the investigation into the 2014 rape.

Video was also key to that case, in which a group of young men from wealthy families are alleged to have carried out the rape on camera, and signed their names on the victim’s body.

The 2014 incident, which took place at the Fairmont Nile City hotel in the Cairo, was uncovered last year after the #MeToo social media movement encouraged victims to expose sexual abuse.

A general view taken on July 30, 2020 shows the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel, where an alleged sexual assault took place in 2014, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. - A gang rape allegation at a luxury hotel in Egypt stemming from a prominent social media account has triggered a new #MeToo wave in the deeply conservative country. The alleged assault took place at the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel in Cairo in 2014 where a group of six men drugged and raped a young woman, according to several social media accounts (Photo by Samer ABDALLAH / AFP)
A general view taken on July 30, 2020 shows the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel, where an alleged sexual assault took place in 2014, in the Egyptian capital Cairo. AFP

Social media campaigns brought cases to light and led to several arrests, including that of alleged serial rapist Ahmed Bassam Zaki.

The public prosecution said investigations into the hotel rape case were continuing.

Women’s rights activist Mozn Hassan, the founder of Nazra for Feminist Studies, said the investigations were a “positive step”.

But Ms Hassan urged the public prosecution to release more details about the charges all of the defendants are facing.

“It’s very important that there is a process, especially in the Fairmont case after all the consequences around it," she said.

"But it’s also important to have transparency and understanding of what’s happening within this case because it is a precedent."

Last week the prosecution appealed against a court decision to release four of the defendants in the case and their detention was renewed for 45 days.

The prosecution said it “closely follows what is published on social media sites regarding the decisions issued by the judiciary on considering the freedom of some of the accused”.

But it warned against efforts to misrepresent the facts of the case.

“The only way to appeal these decisions is through the procedures stipulated by law,” it said.

Of the nine defendants in the 2014 case, two were arrested in Egypt in August, including Mr Zayed, and three were arrested in Beirut in September. The other four remain at large.

Three other people had been detained and were released in January pending investigations.

They were concert promoter Ahmed Ganzoury, Nazly Mostafa, the former wife of one of the defendants, and Seif Eldin Ahmed, who accompanied Ms Mostafa to the police station when she presented herself as a witness.

A lawyer for Ms Mostafa declined to comment and referred all inquiries to the public prosecution.