Egypt court acquits 26 men accused of 'debauchery'


CAIRO - An Egyptian court on Monday acquitted 26 men accused of "debauchery" after they were arrested in a night-time raid on a Cairo bathhouse that triggered international concern.
The men were arrested on December 7 in the raid on a hammam in the Azbakeya district of Cairo, amid fears of a widening police crackdown on homosexuals in Egypt.
The raid was controversially filmed by a female television journalist, who days later aired its footage on "The Hidden," a weekly programme shown on pro-regime private satellite channel Al-Qahira Wel Nas.
"Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)," the defendants chanted when the verdict was announced, an AFP correspondent reported from the court room.
"Finally, an Egyptian court issued a verdict in a case of this kind according to the law," Ahmed Hossam, a lawyer defending 14 of the accused, said.
Egyptian law does not expressly ban homosexuality, but gay men have previously been arrested and charged with debauchery instead.
In the past, homosexuals in Egypt have been jailed on charges ranging from "scorning religion" to "sexual practices contrary to Islam".