Italy's Justice Ministry has ordered a preliminary inquiry into an appeals court ruling that overturned a rape verdict in part by arguing that the woman who was attacked was too ugly to be a credible rape victim. The ruling has sparked outrage in Italy, prompting a flash mob Monday outside the Ancona court, where protesters shouted "Shame!" and held up signs saying "indignation," per the AP. The appeals sentence was handed down in 2017—by an all-female panel—but the reasons behind it only emerged publicly when Italy's high court annulled it on March 5 and ordered a retrial. The Court of Cassation said Wednesday its own reasons for ordering the retrial will be issued next month.
Two Peruvian men were initially convicted of the 2015 rape of a Peruvian woman in Ancona. But the Italian appeals court overturned the verdict and absolved them, finding the woman was not a credible witness. In part of the ruling, the court noted that the suspects had found her unattractive and too "masculine" to be a credible rape victim; one had the woman listed as "Viking" on his cellphone. Cinzia Molinaro, a lawyer for the victim, said her appeal to the Cassation contested a host of procedural problems with the acquittal but also cited the "absolute unacceptability" of the reference to physical appearance. She added that the woman, who's since returned to Peru, suffered such genital trauma in the rape that she required stitches. The Justice Ministry said it is conducting the "necessary preliminary investigations" into the appeals verdict. (Read more rape stories.)