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ROME — 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!’’

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.

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 that she was not a credible witness.

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In part of the ruling, the court noted that the suspects had found her unattractive and too ‘‘masculine’’ to be a credible rape victim.

Cinzia Molinaro, a lawyer for the victim, said her appeal cited the ‘‘absolute unacceptability’’ of the Italian court’s reference to the victim’s physical appearance.

associated press