Egypt’s public prosecution is seeking the arrest of nine suspects accused of gang-raping a woman, including seven who have fled the country.
The rape allegedly took place six years ago at a luxury hotel in the capital, Cairo, but the allegations emerged online in July only.
“The public prosecution is taking legal steps to arrest the fugitives who are accused of assaulting a young woman at the Fairmont Nile City Hotel in 2014,” a statement said.
The police informed the prosecution that “seven of the accused who face an arrest warrant have flown out of the country”, it added.
The prosecution said it was also trying to track down two other suspects in the case, one of whom had allegedly been “accused in a similar [rape] case”.
It did not identify the suspects. A statement on Monday had said the suspects were on an airport watchlist.
The prosecution also warned against sharing “evidence” that may jeopardise the investigation, local media reported.
Lack of action over the 2014 incident, that was reported to have involved six men from powerful families, caused an uproar online after being disclosed in July by Assault Police, an Instagram account with more than 180,000 followers that aims to expose sex attackers and push for justice for rape and sexual assault survivors.
In early August, the prosecution launched a probe after receiving a letter from a national women’s association, which included a complaint from a young 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”, according to AFP news agency.
Egyptian women often face threats of retaliation for exposing sexual misconduct. According to Assault Police’s page, the victim had been threatened by various social media users and was told that her “identity will be released for the public to shame her”.
The latest accusations come amid a resurgence in the #Metoo movement which seeks to hold sexual predators in the deeply conservative country accountable for their actions.
A 2013 study by UN Women found that 99 percent of women in Egypt had at some point in their lives been sexually harassed, either verbally or physically.