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Egypt acquits 'virginity test' military doctor

By Hamza Hendawi

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, March 11 2012 6:15 a.m. MDT

In this Thursday, March 8, 2012 photo, Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim, center, attends a rally in downtown Cairo, Egypt to mark International Women's Day. An Egyptian military tribunal has acquitted an army doctor of an accusation of public obscenity filed by a protester who claimed she was forced to undergo a virginity test while in detention. Samira Ibrahim won a civilian court ruling last year that affirmed the tests were taking place at military jails and ordered they be halted. Ibrahim was one of seven women who said they had been forced to undergo humiliating tests to determine if they were virgins while detained by the military a year ago.

Maya Alleruzzo, Associated Press

CAIRO — An Egyptian military tribunal on Sunday acquitted an army doctor of an accusation of public obscenity filed by a protester who claimed she was forced to undergo a virginity test while in detention.

The country's revolutionary youth movement sees the claims of humiliating tests imposed on detained female protesters as one of the first indications that the generals who took over from Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 would continue the human rights abuses of the ousted president.

Samira Ibrahim, one of seven women who said they had been forced to undergo examinations to determine if they were virgins while detained by the military a year ago, won a civilian court ruling last year that affirmed the tests were taking place at military jails and ordered they be halted.

But military prosecutors investigating her accusations brought only one individual — the doctor — to trial. Ahmed Adel was acquitted. The court, whose verdict cannot be appealed, denied that such tests are carried out.

The military has been in power since Mubarak stepped down last year in the face of a popular uprising. The Mubarak-era generals who succeeded their former patron face accusations by rights activists of killing protesters, torturing detainees and trying at least 10,000 civilians in military tribunals.

Egypt's official news agency said that Adel was acquitted because the testimonies of the witnesses for the plaintiff conflicted.

But the court's insistence that no tests were ever conducted at all has raised doubts about the verdict.

"The court's denial of the tests being conducted went against written testimonies of several public figures who discussed the issue with several of the ruling generals," rights lawyer Adel Ramadan said.

Amnesty International said in June that Egypt's generals have acknowledged carrying the tests on female protesters. It said Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, justified the tests as a way to protect the army from rape allegations. The rights group said al-Sisi vowed the military would not again conduct such tests.

The "virginity test" allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square, epicenter of last year's uprising, that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters and the army intervened forcefully to clear the square.

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