Prosecution suspends investigation into sexual assault accusations against Youm7 chief editor

An investigation into sexual assault allegations filed against Youm7 Editor in Chief Dandrawy Hawary by journalist May al-Shamy has been halted, the privately owned newspaper reported on Saturday.

On August 31, Shamy’s lawyer Entesar al-Saeed filed a misdemeanor complaint at the Dokki Police Station on her client’s behalf, in which she accused one of Shamy’s employers at Youm7 of several incidents of sexual assault.

The complaint was then referred to the Dokki Prosecution, which suspended its investigation into the case on October 31 due to a lack of evidence. Shamy appealed the suspension, but her appeal was rejected on November 5, according to her lawyer, who added that her complaint was then administratively suspended on Saturday.

Saeed told Mada Masr that the suspension of investigations means the defendant was neither acquitted nor charged of the accusations cited in the complaint, so presenting this decision as a victory for the accused is misleading.

Hawary’s lawyer, Mohamed Abdel Lateef, described the prosecution’s decision as proof that “Shamy’s complaint is malicious and that the complainant was unable to prove any of her accusations,” according to the Youm7 report.

Saeed disagreed with Abdel Lateef’s statement, however, telling Mada Masr that the lack of evidence cited by the prosecution should not be used to discredit Shamy.

“The prosecution’s decision reinforces a culture of violence against women, terrorizes victims and discourages them from resorting to the judiciary in similar cases,” Saeed added.

Following the Saturday decision, Hawary may now file a lawsuit to “clear his reputation and get compensation for damages,” the Youm7 report states, quoting Abdel Lateef.

With investigations into the case now suspended, the legal department of Youm7, which is owned the Egyptian Media Group (EMG), decided to suspend Shamy from her position at the newspaper and notified the Journalists Syndicate and the Manpower Ministry’s Labor Bureau of the suspension. This move is the first step in the legal and disciplinary measures that will be taken against Shamy, according to Youm7.

On October 2, building security at Youm7 prevented Shamy from entering the newspaper’s headquarters, according to Saeed. Upon returning from a two-week annual leave, security personnel informed Shamy that she had been banned from the building. The journalist then filed a complaint with the Manpower Ministry’s Labor Bureau, which is competent to look into labor disputes between employees and their employers in cases of forced dismissal, among others. Saeed added that the journalist also filed a legal complaint at the Dokki Police Station.

In September, the legal affairs department of EMG, which is owned by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, launched an internal investigation into an administrative complaint filed by Shamy, in which she accused the newspaper’s editor of sexual assault. A decision has yet to be issued regarding this investigation.

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