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Egypt: Trial delayed in case of teen killed for defended sexual harassment victim

October 21, 2019 at 12:47 pm

18-year-old high school student Mahmoud El-Banna was stabbed to death after defending a sexual harassment victim [Twitter]

The trial of three teenagers accused of murdering Mahmoud El-Banna was postponed after requests that the court verify the age of the main suspect Mohamed Rageh.

Rageh and two others ambushed El-Banna last week and stabbed him in retaliation after he defended a female student they were sexually harassing and beating in the street and then wrote a Facebook post: “it’s not manly to beat a girl in the street.”

El-Banna died in hospital and was dubbed “the martyr of chivalry.” Thousands marched through the streets beside his body.

As minors the suspects will face between 10-15 years in prison for the charge of premeditated murder, but if it is proved that they are over 18 they will be tried as adults and face the death penalty.

Since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi rose to power, Egypt is among the top ten countries with the highest annual numbers of executions.

The Sisi regime has overseen more than 144 death sentences including ten children.

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El-Banna’s death ignited a debate about sexual harassment in Egypt – the Thomson Reuters Foundation has said the North African country is the worst country in the world to be a woman and the UN has calculated that over 99 per cent of women have suffered some form of sexual harassment.

In 2014 the government passed a law stipulating sexual harassment is a crime punishable by five years in prison but it has not been enforced. The government is continuously accused of inaction over sexual harassment and in fact punishes women who have been victim to it.

Activist Amal Fathy and Lebanese tourist Mona El-Mazboh have both been jailed for speaking out about sexual harassment in Egypt.

In July a 15-year-old girl accused of stabbing her rapist was detained with adults and investigated by the general prosecution rather than the juvenile prosecution.

Security services initially announced that El-Banna was killed following an altercation with his friends in a café, but this story was questioned after CCTV footage was circulated online showing El-Banna being chased through the streets by the perpetrators.

After failing to attend the hearing on Sunday, Rageh’s lawyer announced via Facebook that he will no longer be representing the defendant.