Egypt sentences 14 to jail

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 18 2003 12:00 AM ET

A Cairo court on Thursday sentenced 14 men to prison terms ranging from one to three years on charges of homosexual activities, one of their lawyers said. They were also given fines and will be monitored by police for one year after their release, Helmi Al-Rawi told the Associated Press.

Three of the defendants were sentenced to three years, eight got two years, and three got one year, said Al-Rawi, who defended some of the men during the monthlong trial. He added that the men were sentenced on charges of "practicing debauchery." Two defendants were acquitted.

The first defendant was arrested in a rented apartment in February. After Egyptian police received a tip regarding the defendant, his telephone was bugged for more than one month, which led to the arrest of the other defendants. Human rights groups and the international community have condemned Egypt for putting the men on trial because of their sexual orientation. Although homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal code, suspects are charged under a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution, and public morality; violation of these laws is punishable by jail terms.