CAIRO: Twenty human and children’s rights NGOs called on the Ministry of Interior to speed up the process of arresting a 28-year-old man charged with raping his nine-year-old niece, at least 20 times over a period of eight months, in a press release issued on Sunday.
“We have been informed by the girl’s mother that the executive department at the Interior Ministry went twice to the rapist’s house to carry out the verdict, but he remains a fugitive,” read the statement published by The Cairo Center for Development on April 6.
An Upper Egypt criminal court had ruled in absentia last December, sentencing the convict to five years in prison on charges of “disgrace” and possession of melee weapons, which he used to force himself on the little girl.
The statement further condemned the verdict, saying that court used clemency with the defendant, despite the fact that the punishment for charges of “disgrace” is a life sentence according to article 269 of the penal code, especially as two requisites of the law are valid in this case: that the criminal is related by blood to the victim, and the victim is a minor.
Egyptian law states that when a fugitive felon is arrested, he must be retried, though it also states that the defendant receives the utmost sentence when tried in absentia.
“We will demand a death penalty,” Hany Helal, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights (ECCR) nonetheless told The Cairo Post on Monday.
The ECCR and the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) had joined the defense team for the victim and her mother. Other NGOs supporting the cause in the statement include The Egyptian Center for Children Rights, CEDAW, and the New Woman Foundation.
A note written by the victim sparked rage when published in early February, in which she described her experience with her uncle, in its childish phrasing of the events that took place.
“Oh God, I hope my uncle dies for what he did to me,” the young girl wrote, wondering why people would not believe her, adding that her grandparents threatened to kill her if she told her mother.
Since her mother had found out about the crime, she has been struggling to obtain her daughter’s legal rights, but after filing an official complaint, the mother has been exposed to threats, including those from her family members calling on her to drop the charges against the uncle.