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Egyptian court acquits doctor accused of virginity tests

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, For CNN
updated 8:32 AM EDT, Sun March 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The accuser's attorney says he plans to take the case to international authorities
  • The court acquits the doctor because of contradictory witness testimony, state media says
  • Several women have alleged they were subjected to such examinations
  • Amnesty International says troops beat, shocked and strip-searched women

Cairo (CNN) -- An Egyptian court has acquitted an army doctor accused of forcibly administering virginity tests on female detainees, state-run Nile TV said Sunday.

The court acquitted the doctor because of contradictory testimony from witnesses, the government-run website EgyNews reported.

The issue came to light last year after several women alleged they were subjected to such examinations following a March 2011 protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Samira Ibrahim took Egypt's military-led government to court in August, alleging she was among those subjected to the test after her arrest during the March 9, 2011, protest. She said she faced death threats after bringing the case.

On Sunday, the 25-year-old marketing manager said the ruling devastated her.

"This is rape, and I fainted when I heard the verdict in court," she said. "God knows the truth, and it will always be a black spot in Egypt's history."

Adel Ramadan, an attorney represented Ibrahim, said he planned to take the case to authorities outside Egypt, such as the International Criminal Court.

"Internal judiciary options have let us down, and we don't think there is judicial independence," he said. "The Supreme Council ruling the country has been denying everything from torture, killing protesters, and now this atrocious crime of forcedvirginity tests of young innocent females. We will not accept this verdict."

EgyNews reported that during the hearing, the judge said he was not pressured to make his ruling. But Ibrahim accused the court of bias.

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"He should have been tried in a civilian court, not in a military court, where they protect their own. The judge said that there were contradictions and he was not pressured at all. I highly doubt that," she said.

Presidential candidate Abdullah Shalaan said the ruling showed the military government's flaws.

"They will never indict one of their own. In all the cases of killing protesters, no real investigations were done, just fact-finding committees that submit their findings," he said. "No real justice has been served, and this is another example. I congratulate this brave woman for standing against them regardless of the final verdict."

In December, an Egyptian administrative court issued an order banning virginity tests for female detainees.

The human rights group Amnesty International reported that Egyptian troops beat, shocked and strip-searched women arrested during the protests in Cairo and forced them to submit to virginity tests.

Egyptian authorities initially denied requiring virginity tests, but in May, a senior general who asked not to be identified acknowledged the practice.

The general said the tests were performed as a safeguard against the women accusing authorities of sexual assault, and he defended the tests.

"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said at the time. "These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs)."

But Ibrahim said her treatment clearly showed the tests were meant to "degrade the protesters."

"The military tortured me, labeled me a prostitute and humiliated me by forcing on me a virginity test conducted by a male doctor where my body was fully exposed while military soldiers watched," she said.

Another protester arrested in the March 9 protest, Salwa Hosseini, offered a similar account, according to an Amnesty International report on the allegations.

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