A Toronto-area Muslim who alleges she was sexually assaulted by two men has won a round in her battle to testify in court while wearing a niqab, a veil that covers all of the face except the eyes.

In a keenly anticipated ruling addressing what appears to be the first case of its kind in Canada, Mr. Justice Frank Marrocco of Ontario Superior Court overturned a decision by provincial court Judge Norris Weisman.

Presiding over a preliminary inquiry for the two defendants, Judge Weisman last year concurred with their position that the woman should be required to testify with her face in full view, and he instructed her to remove her veil.

However, Judge Marrocco's ruling does not necessarily clear the way for the woman, a Canadian-born mother in her early 30s, to testify from behind her veil. Instead, he ordered that the preliminary inquiry - on hold since the issue surfaced - convene two hearings. One will be videotaped to determine whether the woman's testimony would be admissible as court evidence under those circumstances.

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