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Sex assault charges withdrawn in landmark niqab case

Sex assault complainant was later ordered to remove her niqab while being cross examined.

The Crown in Toronto has withdrawn sexual assault charges in a landmark case pitting religious rights against fair trial rights.

Two men in their 50’s, who can’t be identified because it would identify the complainant, walked out of the 361 University courthouse on Thursday after historic allegations of sexual assault dating back 22 years were withdrawn.

During the long legal battle the woman fought to keep her niqab on while she testified.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada which ruled the matter can only be decided on a case-by-case basis.

She was ordered to remove her veil during cross examination at the preliminary hearing.

On Thursday, the Crown told the court that there was no reasonable chance of a conviction. After seven years, the case never went to trial.

Defence lawyer Enzo Battigaglia, who represents the 54-year old man, said he believes that the removal of the veil allowed the Crown to come to their decision with confidence.

In this case ” the only issue was her credibility.”

Through her lawyer, the woman said she was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling.

“She fully understands that she has no right to any particular verdict from the courts, but she is extremely disillusioned that her allegations will not even be considered on their merits: especially after such a tremendously long and difficult journey through the justice system, which took an immense personal toll,” lawyer David Butt said in an email.