Middle East News Online
By Ashraf Umari, Middle East News Online Reporter
Posted Wednesday August 29, 2001 - 04:55:54 PM EDT
CAIRO (MENO): Trial of 52 Egyptian men accused of engaging in gay sex orgy resumed in Cairo Wednesday, but this time the trial was attended by international observers.
"The law empowers the state security court to examine this case because it involves a charge of contempt for religion and, therefore, affects society," prosecutor Ashraf Helal said at the start of the trial.
Both the defendants and the prosecution team used the principles of Islam to make their case. Defense wintnesses testified to the devoutness of the accused men, while the prosecution charged them with blasphemy and debuachery.
Representatives from several western embassies, US, Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland, in Cairo are said to have attended the trial, without an invitation.
A Canadian diplomat and lawyer, Jean-Philippe Cachian, said "we were sent by our embassies as observers, but (came) without invitation."
Egypt biggest daily newspaper stated in it's editorial today that "this is not a trial related to freedoms, but a case of prostitution," and no one in their right mind would approve such practices.
The trial is the third since the arrest of the Egyptian men in a boat across the Nile river. The young men were said to have been caught while having gay orgy.
But the arrests and the possible imprisonment have ignited cries from around the world, accusing Egypt of human rights violations.
The court verdict cannot be appealed.
50 of the defendants are charged with "practicing debauchery with men." News reports said that the court had accused two of the defendants of "exploiting the Islamic religion to spread extremist ideas" (as well as practicing gay sex) "as part of the group's rituals in front of the remaining defendants and others with the aim of insulting the heavenly religions and sparking civil strife."