Sunday, July 18, 2010

Trial of Christian Framed in Sexual Assault Case Implies 'Fowl Play' by the Egyptian State Security

Written by Mary Abdelmassih
17 July 2010

The high profile criminal trial of Christian Copt poultry vendor Girgis Baroumi, accused of allegedly having sexually assaulted a Muslim minor, has reconvened on July 12, 2010, under a new judicial body and another district criminal court in Qena. The defendant's legal team had applied in April 2010, to change the previous court due to being prevented from meeting with their client, attending closed sessions or cross-examining witnesses.

The court session which lasted for 9 hours without break, was under heavy security, whereby the media were excluded not only from attending court, but being in town altogether. Although it was a 'closed' court session, one Egyptian newspaper, Al-Destour, was able to get hold and publish a summary of the court session's protocol and extracts of witnesses accounts.

The defense team were able for the first time since taking over his defense six months ago to meet with Baroumi in a room in the Court's premises, under heavy security. .

"The session was marked by surprises, which under normal circumstances, should affect the outcome of the trial," defense team member Dr. Ihab Ramzy told Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub in an aired audio interview.

The defendant Girgis Baroumi denied in court all charges against him.
" According to Baroumi he is completely unable to have sex with any woman," said Dr. Ramzy. " He has a congenital male sexual organ abnormality, and on that basis he was was rejected for military service." The court allowed the defense team to apply to the Recruitment Department in Qena to get
the reasons for Baroumi's exemption from the military service.

Baroumi said that he was not at the location where the incident is said to have taken place; instead he was selling poultry at the time somewhere else; he has witnesses to verify his claim. However, his defense doubt whether any of those named by him will come forward as witness, because of fear of getting involved in such a trial.

When Girgis was arrested by the alleged victim's family at the train crossing as he was on his way home at the end of the day, the girl's mother got hold of him and told the crowds that he stole £1000 from her and did not mention the alleged rape, reported Freecopts advocacy.

"Girgis said he had never seen the alleged rape victim, 12-year-old Yusra, which the Security authorities claimed was raped by him. before seeing her during prosecution and at Court," said defense team member George Sobhi to Al-Destour newspaper.

Defense lawyers were able for the first time to cross-examine witnesses among whom was Yusra, her parents, police officer Colonel Ahmed Hegazy who issued the police report and the forensic doctor who examined Yusra after the alleged rape incident.

"Today's court session showed incredible 'foul play'. The investigating police officer, Colonel Ahmed Hegazy, was told by witnesses something and he wrote something else in the report, besides, he never took the appropriate legal procedures," said Dr. Ramzy. He added that when the mother reported her daughter's alleged rape, he never issued a police report. "People arrested and brought the accused, tied and dragged into the police station, while the investigating officer never asked them why or from where did you get him?" he said.

After cross-examining him, Dr. Ramzy accused the investigating officer of fraud and appeal against the police report. "Although he assured that he wrote the police report himself, he never did. I accused him of fraud," he explained.

According to Dr. Ramzy there were extreme conflicting reports from witnesses."Cross-examining the witnesses threw light on many new things, which made Baroumi's position much better."

Amid a bout of severe sobbing, the Court ordered the guard to take Baroumi out of the deliberation room.

The trial was adjourned until September 16, 2010, as the defense wanted to add as evidence the clothes worn by the Yusra at the time of the incident, as well as obtaining the military service exemption certificate.

On November 18, 2009, the 21-year-old Girgis Baroumi, a poultry vendor from Kom al-Ahmar village, near Farshout, was accused by the 12-year-old Muslim girl Yusra Abdelwahab from the neighboring village of al-Shukeifi , of sexually assaulting her. Claims of the assault led to several days of unrest in the area caused by hundreds of Muslim protesters looting and burning Christian property. (Freecopts Video

Activists have accused the Egyptian government of trying to make a scapegoat out of Baroumi to justify the violations against the Copts in Egypt, whether in Farshout or Nag Hammadi. The Egyptian Parliament Speaker falsified facts about this case. He told BBC-Arabic on January 31, 2010, that Yousra was dead as a result of being raped, when she was alive.

"If the police officer falsified the police report, leading to the first attack against the Copts in Farshout in November 2009, so how can Christians trust the credibility of the State Security, which sponsors mobsters and terrorists?" said activist Wagih Yacoub. "We call on the punishment of those responsible of complicity in the attacks against the Copts, as well as the dismissal of Interior Minister, in whose time we saw the worst attacks against Christians as well as their eviction from their villages and homes."

Mary Abdelmassih

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