Egypt’s Public Prosecution issued a temporary order on Tuesday to halt criminal proceedings in regards to the Fairmont gang rape case—which refers to an alleged sex crime that took place in February 2014—due to insufficient evidence and ordered the release of the defendants held in connection to the investigation.
The Public Prosecution said in a statement that the investigations lasted for around nine months, and concluded that the evidence is not sufficient to refer the accused to criminal trial.
In the initial stages of the investigation, the Public Prosecution monitored last year the events on social media and what was circulated online regarding the incident. The statement added that authorities had listened to the victim’s story and one witness who was present during the night the sex crime allegedly took place. Investigators also listened to 39 other witnesses as well as hotel staff, forensic doctors, police officers and others who claim to have seen video footage of the gang rape.
Photographs were also sent to the Public Prosecution which showed a girl’s naked body, but authorities say they couldn’t identify her or anyone else who appeared in them. The prosecution added that many of the witnesses, including the sole eye witness, were unable to identify her.
The Public Prosecution also stated that it had, from the very beginning, taken stringent measures towards the accused, adding their names to travel ban lists and issuing orders to detain them upon arrival. Authorities also issued orders to pursue those of them who had fled internationally—three were arrested in the state of Lebanon and another was arrested in Egypt.
The video footage of the incident was not submitted to the Public Prosecution, and its availability would have contributed to uncovering the truth about the incident, the statement notes.
In response, the office of the Public Prosecutor took measures to keep pace with the circumstances in the second phase of its investigation in order to ensure that all means are taken to reach the truth. In an official statement issued on the 24th of February of this year, prosecutors called on any persons of interest or potential witnesses to submit the alleged video directly to the Public Prosecution or by sending it through an email created specifically for that purpose, which was meant to ensure the necessary technical protection and anonymity of the sender.
The Public Prosecution received audio recordings of conversations attributed to some witnesses, which included a witness who admitted that he had received the video of the incident through his email in 2015 and that he had deleted it without seeing it.
The Public Prosecution contacted the company that owns said email domain and runs its servers in an attempt to retrieve the video, but was informed that it was technically impossible.
After the investigation was concluded, the Public Prosecution re-submitted its case files to weigh the evidence it had against the defendants and found that it was lacking in several aspects and, therefore, insufficient in the context of a criminal trial. According to the Public Prosecution’s statement, there were discrepancies concerning the date of the private party during which the gang rape allegedly took place, which cast doubt on witness testimonies and undermined prosecutors’ ability to place suspects and others at the crime scene and fully determine the extent of their involvement. Another setback was the prosecution’s inability to locate the alleged video, which has yet to be presented to the prosecution.
The Public Prosecution also revealed that some witnesses recanted their earlier statements in support of the victim’s case, while others claimed the incident was a consensual sexual encounter and that the victim willingly took a date rape drug, adding that many of the accounts shared by witnesses were hearsay.
The statement added that the “indolence” in reporting the crime almost six years after the fact also presented challenge to the prosecution and undermined the case.
The Public Prosecution concluded its statement saying that the orders issued in this case are temporary and that it can reopen the investigation if new evidence emerges before the statute of limitation expires.
WHAT IS THE FAIRMONT CRIME?
The Fairmont crime involved the drugging and gang rape of a young woman at a private after party at the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel. The rape was captured on video that was allegedly shared by the suspected rapists and their acquaintances. Late last month, Egypt’s Public Prosecution issued a statement calling on potential witnesses and persons of interest in the case to turn in the video of the alleged gang rape and revealed that some screenshots of the video were sent from an anonymous social media account.
The alleged gang rape of the young woman had remained unspoken about for years, only to come to light publicly after the landmark Ahmed Bassam Zaki case, which saw the alleged serial rapist and harasser arrested after being accused of rape and sexual abuse by dozens of women.
According to sources, many acquaintances of the alleged rapists were reportedly aware of sexual crimes committed by the accused gang rapists, but remained silent – some out of fear and others out of solidarity.
Speaking to Egyptian Streets, a number of sources confirmed the presence of a number of the alleged rapists at the scene of the alleged crime on 21 February 2014.
An investigative report by Egyptian Streets published on Tuesday 5 August revealed that the victim was drugged, repeatedly raped and degraded by a number of men.
Egyptian Streets also received information that evidence has been received by lawyers in relation to at least one other alleged related rape carried out by some of the men allegedly involved in the Fairmont crime and that, as of Tuesday 4 August 2020, official legal complaints have been filed.