Decision marks a legal precedent in such cases in Egypt
Cairo: A decision by Egypt’s top attorney general to drop a case against a girl who had killed a bus driver in an alleged rape attempt, has been hailed as historic.
In July, the 15-year-old girl, identified as Amira Ahmad, turned herself in to police and confessed to having fatally stabbed the man after he had purportedly tricked her into going to a desert area in Giza near Cairo and attempted to rape her at knife point.
She had convinced him into abandoning the knife before she grabbed it and stabbed him 15 times, according to investigations.
The girl also said she had been on her way for a date with a boyfriend when the bus driver abducted her and attempted to sexually assault her.
The attorney-general's decision is historic and is of interest to every girl in Egypt. It respects our girls’ humanity and safeguard their honour and dignity,
The murder raised controversy in largely conservative Egypt, with some accusing the teenager of having an illicit affair with the slain man and misconduct.
A court ordered Amira’s release earlier this month after she had spent four months in police custody.
On Tuesday, Egypt's chief prosecutor Hamada Al Saway said there are no grounds to file a murder case against the girl because she acted in defence of her honour.
Weeks-long investigations also proved the truthfulness of the girl's account, the public prosecutor said in a statement.
His decision marks a legal precedent in such cases in Egypt where victims of sexual harassment are usually blamed.
Several night-time TV talk shows celebrated the prosecutor’s order.
“This decision makes most Egyptians happy because the girl committed the crime in defence of her honour,” celebrated TV show host Wael Al Ebrashi said Tuesday night.
- Case timeline:
- 13 July: Amira kills bus driver and turn herself up to police
- 15 July: The Public Prosecution orders to detain her for 4 days for further investigations
- 20 Oct: The forensic report confirms that she was in self-defense
- 5 Nov: Released after 4 months in remand
- 12 Nov: Attorney general drop the case against Amira
“The decision inspired joy of all lovers of justice and purity,” he added.
However, no –one could be happier than Amira and her family.
“God has done justice to me because I was defending my honour,” the girl said Tuesday night, shortly after the top prosecutor’s decision.
“I’ve learnt a lifetime lesson that I should take permission from my parents before leaving the house,” she told Egyptian private TV station Al Mehwar.
“I thank Egyptian legal system for its integrity,” her father told the same broadcaster.
Had the girl been convicted of murder, she, as a minor, could have faced a maximum 15 years in jail.
Her lawyer, Dina Al Moqadam, called the decision to stop the girl’s prosecution "historic".
"The Attorney general's decision is historic and is of interest to every girl in Egypt. It respects our girls’ humanity and safeguard their honour and dignity,” Al Moqadam told private Egyptian television Saada Al Balad.
“It also reflects spirit of law and a humanitarian sense of judgement as it heeded the child's situation at the time of the assault on her," the lawyer added. “The decision confirms my client’s innocence and proves her account that she acted in defence of her honour.”
After the July 14 incident, Amira underwent a virginity test that proved she was a virgin, a result that vindicated her against claims of misbehavior, according to Egyptian media. Traces of her skin were also found in the slain man’s fingernails, deemed evidence of the rape attempt on her.
Loss of female virginity before marriage is a cause of social disgrace in Egypt and can cost the girl her life by the family in what is known as "honour killings".
According to Egyptian law, rape is a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. In case the rape results in the victim’s death, or is carried out under the threat of a weapon, the offender can be sentenced to death.
Sexual harassment is a serious problem in Egypt. A 2013 UN report found that 99.3 per cent of women in Egypt have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
One social media user posted on twitter thanking Amira "you did us all the biggest favor ever, you saved us from that criminal."
Conservatives usually blame victims, prompting many of them to shun reporting the offence to authorities for fear of social disgrace.
In recent years, Egyptian authorities and civil society groups have stepped up efforts to combat the offence. Under recent legal amendments, sexual harassment in Egypt is punishable by jail terms of up to 10 years.