Prosecutors in Florence on Friday opened an investigation into claims made by two female American college students that they were raped in the central Italian city by two Carabinieri officers who offered to drive them home from a nightclub in a police vehicle.
The students said they were raped inside the building before they could reach their rooms.
The Carabinieri is a paramilitary police force under the control of the Defense Ministry.
“Investigations are still ongoing, but there is some basis regarding the allegations”, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told a conference on women’s issues late on Friday. “Rape is always a serious… But it’s of unprecedented seriousness if it is committed by Carabinieri in uniform”.
Italian media say three patrol cars went to a nightclub to investigate a fight. Two cars left after calm was restored, but the third remained. The women told authorities that the police, in uniform, drove them home from a disco early Thursday morning because they couldn’t find a taxi, then raped them inside their apartment building.
Two young American college students have accused two Italian police officers of sexual assault, as reported by The New York Times.
Local police chiefs reportedly told United States officials that they would treat the case with the utmost transparency and rigour.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome refused to comment “due to the sensitive nature of this case and to protect the privacy of those involved”.
Prosecutors in Florence are investigating the accusations and have taken statements from the two women, who, according to Italian news media reports, are from New Jersey and ME, and are studying at Lorenzo de’ Medici – The Italian International Institute.
Florence, with its many museums and churches full with Renaissance masterpieces, is a popular destination for many Americans, especially university students. An autopsy had determined that she had been strangled and suffered skull fractures.