Egypt’s public prosecutor has called on witnesses who have video footage of the Fairmont Hotel rape to share it with them as evidence and promised them confidentiality and protection.
The public prosecution later announced that it had received screenshots of a video of the Fairmont gang rape and claimed it would help justice be served.
However, the announcement has set off alarm bells given that several witnesses who previously came forward were arrested by Egyptian authorities and detained for nearly five months.
Last summer, nine men were accused of drugging and raping a woman at the luxury Fairmont Nile City Hotel in 2014. The group was accused of filming the rape and then using the footage to blackmail the victim.
The rape ignited huge social media attention after allegations first appeared in public on an Instagram account, Assault Police, which called for information on the rape. However, they deleted the posts after receiving death threats.
The National Council for Women encouraged the victim and witnesses to come forward, promising them support and protection, which initially led authorities to order the arrest of the suspects.
However, four female witnesses to the gang rape were then arrested and investigated for drug abuse, inciting debauchery and participating in an orgy.
Three of them remained in custody for five months and personal videos and photos of them were leaked online.
They were smeared by pro-government media which said they were part of a network of homosexuals spreading AIDS.
In November last year a young Egyptian man who accompanied a witness to the police station so that she wouldn’t be alone was arrested and detained for his “sexual orientation”.
The National Council for Women told women working on the campaign to keep quiet about the arrests.