Egypt arrests new suspect in gang rape case

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Egyptian authorities have arrested a new suspect involved in the alleged gang rape of a women in 2014, the public prosecution said on Sunday.

The latest targeting of alleged sexual predator comes amid the resurgence of a #MeToo movement which seeks to hold sexual predators in the deeply conservative country accountable for their actions.

The alleged rape took place six years ago after an elitist party at a luxury Cairo hotel. Details of the incident only emerged online in July.

For weeks, names and pictures of suspects, who appear to hail from wealthy families, have circulated online. AFP has been unable to verify their authenticity.

Last week, the Egyptian prosecution said the case involved nine men seven of whom fled the country and were being pursued through the Interpol.

“The public prosecutor ordered the detention of Omar Hafez for four days pending an investigation into the assault of a girl in the Fairmont Hotel,” his office said in a statement on Sunday.

Hafez was arrested on August 28, it said.

On Wednesday the Egyptian prosecution announced the arrest of Amir Zayed, another suspect in the case who it said was also accused of involvement in “a similar incident”.

On Saturday, Lebanese police said it had arrested three Egyptian nationals after receiving a letter from the Egyptian Interpol.

The Egyptian prosecution launched the probe earlier this month after receiving a letter from the National Council for Women, which included a complaint from the woman who claimed she had been gang-raped at the Fairmont in 2014.

The hotel has said it had conducted an internal investigation but found “that at no time were any reports of the incident filed to the hotel, nor to the hotel’s tourism police”.

Women in Egypt where sexual harassment is rampant are often reluctant to speak out fearing public shaming and being blamed for dressing or acting “provocatively”.

United Nations surveys have found that most Egyptian women have been subject to harassment ranging from catcalling to pinching and groping.

Egypt’s parliament earlier this month approved amendments to the criminal code granting victims of sexual assault the right to anonymity.

Egyptian authorities have criminalised sexual harassment since 2014, but many women complain that the problem remains rampant.

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