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Acquittal in assault of Christian woman casts pall over Christmas for Egypt's Coptic community

The acquittal by a Minya court of three defendants who in May 2016 stripped an elderly Christian woman naked and dragged her through the streets of her village has provoked outrage among Christians and rights groups.
Coptic Orthodox worshippers attend Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Egypt's administrative capital, 45 kms east of Cairo, on January 6, 2020. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

A controversial court ruling acquitting three defendants — a father and his two sons — who had stripped naked and dragged an elderly Coptic Christian woman through the streets of an Upper Egyptian village four years ago, has sparked an outcry from rights groups and the country's Christian community.

The three men who had been sentenced to 10 years each in absentia by the Minya Criminal Court in January were acquitted Dec. 17 after turning themselves in. Over the course of the last 11 months, several judges had recused themselves from the case for unclear reasons.

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