Egyptian prosecutors announced they have dropped a high-profile investigation into the alleged gang rape of a young woman at a luxury hotel that fuelled Egypt’s #MeToo movement, saying there is “insufficient evidence”.
Prosecutors have ordered the release of all the suspects in the case, most of whom had been in police custody for months, while the investigation proceeded amid fierce public controversy.
The case has outraged the whole country after a woman alleged in a social media post last year that she was drugged and gang raped at the five-star Fairmont Nile City Hotel in Cairo in 2014.
Assault Police, the campaign account that first reported the allegations last year, posted about the case being dropped with the hashtag “#justiceforthefairmontsurvivor”.
In a statement, prosecutors said that over the course of nine months, its investigation “had exhausted all its means to reach the truth in the case”.
They also added that the case could be reopened if new evidence came to light.
The Egyptian prosecutors said they had pursued the suspects last year by enforcing travel bans and issuing international arrest warrants for three of the men from Lebanon.
But, they added, “there is insufficient evidence against the defendants to proceed with a criminal case. The release of those temporarily detained has been ordered”.
They said they had interviewed 39 witnesses, and that “contradictions appeared in the testimonies of witnesses about key facts of the incident”.
Prosecutors also questioned police and forensic doctors, they said, as well as the alleged victim.
Last year, the Egyptian parliament approved a law intended to encourage victims of crimes to report them by giving them the automatic right to anonymity.
Research suggests that abuse is widespread in Egypt, but that women are afraid that if they file complaints they themselves could be blamed.
When the case was first publicised last year, the case led to people across Egypt sharing their experiences online of sexual harassment and assault. (Source: BBC)