Two years after its application: The Court of Cassation will hear the appeal in the case of stripping The Lady of El Karm next January 9
The Court of Cassation set a session for next January 9, to hear criminal felony appeal submitted by the Public Prosecution and Mrs. Souad Thabet, a civil claimant, on the ruling issued on December 17, 2020 by the Minya Criminal Court. The latter decision had acquitted the three defendants in the case of stripping Souad Thabet Abdallah, known in the media as "Lady of El Karm".
This comes nearly two years after the Public Prosecution submitted the appeal on January 10, 2021. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) had issued a statement on January 11, calling on the Court of Cassation to quickly schedule a session to consider the appeal submitted by the Public Prosecution.
The events of the village of Al-Karm in Abu Qurqas, south of Minya governorate, go back to Friday, May 20, 2016, when sectarian attacks took place against a number of Christian residents of the village against the backdrop of a rumor of a romantic relationship between a Christian named Ashraf Daniel Attia and a Muslim woman. Dozens of village Muslims looted and burned 5 houses owned by Christians, and three people were injured. Mrs. Souad Thabet, the mother of the accused Christian, was also assaulted, stripped, and dragged in front of her house. In addition, rallies were organized in the streets of the village, during which hostile slogans were chanted towards Christian citizens as a collective.
Different courts deliberated three different cases regarding those incidents, as the Abu Qurqas Center Misdemeanor Court, in Minya, ruled on April 7, 2018, to imprison Attia Daniel Attia, known as “Ashraf”, as well as the Muslim woman in absentia, for two years, accusing them of committing adultery. Later, on July 27, 2017, the Abu Qurqas Appellate Misdemeanor Court reduced the first defendant’s sentence to one year.
On June 15, 2021, the Minya Criminal Court ruled a five-year prison sentence for ten defendants in Case No. 20087 of 2016 Abu Qurqas felonies, registered under No. 20032 of 2016 in the south of Minya, in connection with the burning of 5 Coptic homes and the injury of three citizens, after the Public Prosecution charged them with gathering, showoff of force, burning and destroying homes of Coptic citizens, provoking violence and riots, and possession of firearms during the attack on the village’s Copts. The court acquitted 14 other defendants in the case.
On December 17, 2020, the Minya Criminal Court, headed by Counselor Ashraf Mohamed Ali, and the membership of Counselors Salah El-Din Mohamed and Ahmed Ezzat, issued a verdict in the third case acquitting the three defendants involved in the case of Souad Thabet’s stripping, who are Nazir Isaaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez, Abdel Moneim Isaaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez, and Isaac Ahmed Abdel Hafez. On January 10, 2021, the Public Prosecutor appealed the ruling after the Technical Office of the Public Prosecutor studied the reasons for the ruling and the grounds for appeal against it, and the felony file was sent from the Minya Criminal Court to the Court of Cassation on February 23, 2021.
For more on the incidents of sectarian attacks in the village of Al-Karm and related judicial developments, see: