A military court in Egypt has acquitted a doctor who had been accused of forcing female protesters to undergo virginity tests.
Ahmed Adel was cleared because the judge found contradictions in witness statements, Egypt’s state-run Mena news agency reported on Sunday.
The case was brought by one of the women, Samira Ibrahim, who said the “tests” took place after they had been detained during protests last year.
As many as 17 came forward saying they were violated last year during the revolution.
The verdict cannot be appealed. The court denied that such tests were carried out.
“These tests had amounted to torture and [the] verdict has sent a wrong message … It shows that women’s rights are not important in Egypt”
– Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui,
“No one stained my honour,” Ibrahim wrote on her Twitter account after the verdict. “The one that had her honour stained is Egypt. I will carry on until I restore Egypt’s rights.”
Egypt’s official news agency said that Adel was acquitted because the testimonies of the witnesses for the plaintiff conflicted.
However, the court’s insistence that no tests were ever conducted at all has raised doubts about the verdict.
“The court’s denial of the tests being conducted went against written testimonies of several public figures who discussed the issue with several of the ruling generals,” rights lawyer Adel Ramadan said.
The women were arrested when the army cleared Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in March last year.
The ruling comes “from what has been proven in documents and based on my conscience,” the judge said according to the MENA news agency, adding that he had “not been subjected to any pressures.”
Adel was accused of “public indecency” and “disobeying military orders”, after the initial charge of rape had been dropped.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reporting from outside the court in Cairo, said: “It was chaotic in the court-room after the verdict was announced, outside the court-room people were chanting against the military rule.”
“This verdict will not go down well with the public”, said our reporter.
Getting the case into court was considered a victory for the female protesters who were subjected to the tests and had raised hopes of further trials of those accused of abuse.
Sunday’s ruling could also have implications for other cases filed by women against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when Mubarak was deposed, for violence against them.
“These tests had amounted to torture and verdict has sent a wrong message,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, the UK-based human-rights organisation, told Al Jazeera.
“It shows that women’s rights are not important in Egypt.”
Human-rights organisations had said there had been many other such tests by the military.
In December, a video of military police dragging a woman along the ground with troops surrounding her and kicking her on the chest, as well as another video showing military personnel beating a female protester led to further outrage.
In December, an Egyptian court ordered a halt to virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons.