Cairo, Mar 11: An Egyptian military court today acquitted an army doctor accused of forcing woman detainees to undergo virginity tests during last year's protests in the iconic Tahrir Square here, a case that had triggered an outcry both at home and abroad.
Ahmed Adel, against whom one of the detainees Samira Ibrahim had levelled allegations, was acquitted by the military court in Cairo.
Adil was accused of forcing woman detainees to undergo virginity tests, after military personnel dispersed on March 9 last year a sit-in at the Tahrir Square by activists demanding quick transition to the civilian rule following the fall of the Mubarak regime.
Apart from 25-year-old Ibrahim, who brought the charges against Adel, six women had said that they were forced by the Egyptian army, while in detention, to submit to a five-minute “virginity test” by a male doctor.
Adel had been accused of “public indecency” and “disobeying military orders”, after the initial charge of rape was dropped.
The military tribunal said in its verdict today that it was confident that the doctor was innocent due to conflicting testimonies given by witnesses, according to MENA news agency.
The ruling comes “from what has been proven in documents and based on my conscience,” the judge was quoted as saying, adding that he had “not been subjected to any pressures.”
Following the verdict, Ibrahim, who was present in the court, shouted slogans like “down with the military” and stormed out of the building, witnesses said.
Ibrahim, a marketing manager, said the ruling devastated her.
“This is rape, and I fainted when I heard the verdict in court,” she was quoted as saying by CNN. “God knows the truth, and it will always be a black spot in Egypt's history.”
Ibrahim accused the court of bias. “He (the doctor) 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.
On December 27, the State Council Administrative Court had issued a landmark ruling in Ibrahim's favour, banning the use of “virginity tests.”
On the day of that ruling, the head of Egypt's military judiciary, Adel El-Morsy, had stated that the administrative court's order to suspend the practice of subjecting woman detainees to “virginity tests” was not applicable, simply because it was never part of the military's prison code.
After this, the cases of the alleged forced virginity tests were transferred to the supreme military court.
On February 7, two woman prison wardens summoned to deliver testimony denied the alleged incidents took place. They claimed the women in question had only been asked by army personnel if they were married and whether they were pregnant.
Amnesty International, a global human rights body, had earlier claimed 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 that the women were subjected to virginity tests, but in May, a senior general who asked not to be identified, acknowledged the practice, saying the tests were carried out as a safeguard against the women accusing authorities of sexual assault.
The military has been in power in Egypt since longtime leader Hosni Mubarak stepped down last year following a popular uprising against his rule.