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Egypt army court acquits doctor over virginity test

posted 11 Mar 2012, 12:50 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Mar 2012, 12:52 ]

A military court in Egypt acquitted an army doctor charged with carrying out a forced virginity test on a female detainee during protests last year.

CAIRO, EGYPT (MARCH 11, 2012) (REUTERS) - A military court acquitted an army doctor on Sunday (March 11) charged with carrying out a forced virginity test on a female detainee during protests last year, in a case that has fuelled anger against the ruling generals.

Activist Samira Ibrahim, who defied taboos in the conservative Muslim country to raise her case, said she was forced to undergo a virginity test in March last year after she was arrested during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"(The court ruled) in case number 918, for the year 2011 in the Criminal Military Tribunal against Soldier, Dr. Ahmed Adel El-Mougy with an acquittal of the charges," announced the ruling the court's spokesman Colonel Ehab Salah El-Din.

Adel, dressed in civilian clothes, defended himself to a courtroom filled with reporters, saying Ibrahim's accounts of what happened varied over time.

"Why does she change her account each time? In a video broadcast last June she said that a test was performed on her and then she was released. In a video broadcast in November, two days before the 18th (when a major protest took place) and later in Tahrir Diaries, she said that she was put in a room where we were going back and forth. So first she said we didn't do anything to her, and then she said she was put in a room and then tested and so on. But where is the logic? I was a soldier in the army, serving Egypt. Whether people object or approve, I was serving my country," said the doctor, Ahmed Adel, after the court's ruling.

Ibrahim's and similar cases stoked criticism of the generals who took control of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office on Feb. 11, 2011 by a popular uprising.

Controversy over the virginity tests gathered pace after a general was quoted by CNN last year as saying tests were carried out to prove the women were not virgins when they were detained, so they could not say they were raped in detention. An army official later denied the comments were made.

Ibrahim was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term for insulting authorities, joining an illegal assembly and breaking a curfew. A civilian court issued a ruling in December ordering the army to end the practice and a military judicial official then said cases of reported forced virginity tests had been transferred to the Supreme Military Court.

"We hope to see justice and to see that everyone working in human rights organizations and all media personnel, stand beside Ahmed and defend his rights. Ahmed is a doctor, which means his living depends on his reputation. The other thing is that if he had been charged by the ruling, his name would have been removed from the Doctor's Syndicate. I wish that there will be justice, the justice that January 25th revolution was based on. The social justice would mean for the people to stand by Ahmed and to organize protests so Ahmed get compensation. God willing, we will take all necessary legal procedures to restore his social position," said Ahmed Adel's lawyer Howaida Mostafa.

Ibrahim refused to comment on the ruling.

During the court session around 30 protesters gathered outside the court shouting "Down with military rule".