A year after the appeal by the Public Prosecution: EIPR calls on the Court of Cassation to schedule a session to consider the appeal against the acquittal of those accused of “stripping El Karam lady”

Press Release

11 January 2022

EIPR called on the Court of Cassation to promptly set a hearing for the criminal case appeal No. 3070 of 91 J submitted by the Public Prosecution to challenge the ruling issued on December 17, 2020 by the Minya Criminal Court acquitting three defendants in the case of stripping Soad Thabet Abdullah, known in the media as “ El Karam lady", against the backdrop of the sectarian attacks that took place in the village of Karam in May 2016.

On Friday, May 20, 2016, the village of El-Karm in the Abu Qurqas district, south of Minya governorate, witnessed sectarian attacks against a number of Christian residents of the village, against the background of a rumor of a romantic relationship between a Christian man named Ashraf Daniel Attia and a Muslim woman. Dozens of the village’s Muslims looted and burned 5 houses owned by Christians, and wounded three people. Ms. Souad Thabet, the mother of the accused Christian, was also attacked, stripped of her clothes and dragged in front of her house, in addition to organizing marches that roamed the streets of the village, during which hostile slogans were chanted towards Christian citizens in general.

On November 19, 2016, the First Public Prosecutor’s Decision of Southern Minya Prosecutions issued a decision not to file a criminal case temporarily in the case of stripping and dragging the victim due to insufficient evidence. Subsequently, civil plaintiff, Souad Thabet, appealed, and the Criminal Court decided in the Consultation Chamber to accept the case in form and substance and to present the three accused: Nazeer Ishaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez, Abdel Moneim Ishaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez, and Ishaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez to be tried before the Criminal Court for the two offenses of indecent assault by force, display of force and use of violence against the victim. The case was registered as Felony No. 23668 of 2016 in accordance with Article 268/A of the Penal Code because, on May 20, 2016 in the Abu Qurqas District, Minya Governorate, they “by force sexually molested the victim, by stripping her of her clothes and dragging her on the public road naked,” as indicated in the investigations.

After the succession of sessions and judicial circuits hearing the case, the Minya Criminal Court ruling was issued on December 17, 2020, acquitting the three defendants.  On January 10, 2021 the Public Prosecutor ordered an appeal of the ruling after the Technical Office of the Public Prosecutor studied the reasons for the ruling, and the appeals against it; the felony file was sent from the Minya Criminal Court to the Court of Cassation on February 23, 2021.  

EIPR said that despite the announced directives of competent officials to quickly settle the cases, in line with the principle of prompt justice, so that citizens feel accessibility of the justice facility and ensuring protection of their rights, but more than a year has passed since the verdict of innocence in the case of Mrs. Souad Thabet's stripping without an appeal hearing, with the result that no reparation was provided for the oppressed mother. EIPR added that the length of the litigation period, in addition to the psychological pain of the victim, may open the door to the recurrence of such attacks, and the message they represent to be lenient with the incidents of sectarian violence, and violence against women in general.

For more details on the details of the attacks and the judicial developments of the three related cases: