Egypt arrests female witnesses in Fairmont hotel gang rape case

Egypt arrests female witnesses in Fairmont hotel gang rape case
Three key witnesses in an investigation into an alleged gang rape at Cairo's Fairmont hotel in 2014 have been arrested without access to a lawyer.
3 min read
30 August, 2020
The 2014 incident took place at Cairo's luxury Fairmont hotel [Getty]
Egyptian security forces have detained at least three main witnesses in the so-called Fairmont case, the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman by a group of men at Cairo's Fairmont hotel in 2014, which as recently been investigated by authorities, according to Mada Masr.

The witnesses, all of them women, had previously provided the public prosecution with information regarding the incident.

Allegations regarding the 2014 case surfaced on social media last month, sparking an online campaign to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. The Public Prosecution issued arrest warrants for nine suspects, seven of whom have fled abroad, on 24 August.

One suspect was arrested in Egypt on Thursday, while three have been detained in Lebanon, the Lebanese authorities announced on Saturday.

Security forces arrested two of the witnesses on Friday, and the third witness, who was said to have moved out of her Cairo home fearing arrest, on Saturday.

Azza Soliman, a prominent lawyer who had previously represented the victim in the investigation, posted on Facebook on Saturday confirming the arrests.

“Strangely, most of the key witnesses from the Fairmont case have been arrested since yesterday, and nobody knows anything about them,” she wrote. 

None of the women detained have had access to their lawyers.

Reports of the detention of other witnesses and people connected to the case have been reported by lawyers recently.

The prosecution launched its investigation following a sustained online campaign in which testimonies and video evidence, as well as the identities of the alleged perpetrators, were collated on various social media pages.

Assault Police, an Instagram account with more than 180,000 followers, shared reports about the case. The account has been leading various campaigns for justice for rape and sexual assault survivors in Egypt in recent months.

The campaign was launched following the landmark arrest and investigation of Ahmed Bassem Zaki, a former student at the American University in Cairo (AUC), after over 50 women claimed he had assaulted them over a number of years, dozens of whom published their testimonies over social media.

An investigation into the Fairmont case by independent media outlet Egyptian Streets details how the group of alleged rapists held a private after-party in a hotel room following an event at a suite in the same hotel.

The report compiles several testimonies alleging that four men drugged and raped an unconscious 18-year-old woman. The incident was allegedly recorded on video and was widely shared among the perpetrators and their friends.

This videos are now central to the legal case against the alleged rapists, all of whom reportedly come from wealth families.

However the figures central to exposing the Fairmont incident have been subject to intimidation and death threats.

A statement from the prosecution on Thursday said that Amir Zayed had been arrested a day earlier while attempting to flee the country and was ordered "to be jailed for four days pending investigation into the assault of a girl in the Fairmont Nile City Hotel."

Zayed is also accused of involvement in "a similar incident", the prosecution added, without elaborating.

Lebanese security forces said three suspects were arrested on 28 August in the village of Fatqa in Mount Lebanon, without giving their names.

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