An Egyptian army doctor accused of humiliating women protesters with "virginity tests" has been cleared by a military tribunal in Cairo. The main plaintiff, Samira Ibrahim, said the verdict was a judicial "disaster."
An Egyptian military court has cleared an army doctor after female protesters said they were subjected to "virginity tests" when detained a year ago. Activist Samira Ibrahim had broken taboos last December when she pressed charges.
Egypt's official news agency MENA said on Sunday that the tribunal had dismissed the charges of "public indecency" and "disobeying military orders" against the medic Dr. Ahmed Adel. MENA claimed there had been conflicting testimony from witnesses.
Outside the courtroom after the acquittal, 30 protesters shouted "we demanded dignity and change. Instead they stripped our girls in Tahrir."
Lawyer Huwayda Mostafa Salem who represented the doctor said the case against Adel was "not strong," adding that "it was brought about due to media pressure."
Since ex-president Hosni Mubarak's ouster during a popular uprising early last year, Ibrahim's and similar cases have stoked criticism among the country's revolutionary youth movements of military generals who still control Egypt via the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Outrage over verdict
Activist Samira Ibrahim told the news agency AFP that "the fact that the case was in a military court is a disaster. It's a joke, a theater." On her social network account, she added: "The one that had her honor stained is Egypt."
Ibrahim was one of seven women who said they were forced to submit to genital examinations while in detention in March 2011 after forces in plainclothes cleared Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of last year's uprising. In late December she won a civil court ruling banning such tests by the military.
A rights lawyer, Adel Ramadan said the tribunal's presiding judge had denied that such tests were even been conducted. Reports from Cairo say the military court's verdict cannot be appealed.
Human Rights Watch researcher, Heba Morayef said hopes that Egypt's military could be held accountable had further dwindled, less than four months ahead of a scheduled handover of power to a civilian administration.
"The ruling shows how politicized the military justice system is, and the lack of independence there is. The implications are far-reaching," Morayef said.
Tests were "torture," says Amnesty
Amnesty International's Middle East director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said the "virginity tests" trial had been a rare opportunity for Egypt's military to show that "torture" of civilians by the army did not go unpunished.
"'Ever since this unacceptable episode, which is nothing less than torture, women protesters have repeatedly faced beatings, torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of Egypt's army and security forces," Sahraoui said.
In December, Egyptians were shocked by a video of military police dragging a woman along the ground with troops surrounding her and kicking her on the chest. Another video showed military police beating a female protester.
Last June, Amnesty said a general within the ruling SCAF, Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had justified the so-called "virginity tests" as a way to "protect" the army from rape allegations. An army official later denied that such justifications were given.
ipj/pfd (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)