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Italian police officers investigated over alleged rape of US students

Two Italian police officers are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of two American students, Italian media reported on Friday.

Italian police officers investigated over alleged rape of US students
File photo of Florence: gwen/Flickr

The alleged assault took place in Florence on Wednesday night, when the two women claim two on-duty Carabinieri police officers raped them.

The women, aged 19 and 21, spent the evening at a nightclub where a group of police officers were called to break up a fight.

Four of the officers left shortly afterwards when calm was restored, and the remaining two offered the Americans a lift home; they were captured on CCTV footage getting into the police car.

Once they returned to the students' apartment in central Florence, the women claim the officers raped them.

Both women were examined in hospital on Thursday and investigators have confiscated the clothes they were wearing during the incident to carry out analyses, Florentine paper La Nazione reported.

According to police sources cited by Ansa, police then interviewed the women separately over the course of the day, “and found no inconsistencies in their stories”.

Each year, the Tuscan city hosts thousands of US students at some forty universities and countless language schools.

Florence is the city with the country's second highest rate of reported sexual assaults, according to figures released by national statistics agency Istat earlier this year.

Istat data also showed that in the first six months of 2017, more than 2,000 people were charged with sexual assault in Italy – though the agency estimated that fewer than ten percent of the total number of sexual assault crimes are reported to police.

ANALYSIS: 'Violence against women conditions every aspect of our lives'

CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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