Five Star founder Beppe Grillo’s son investigated in gang rape case

The son of the comedian and activist Beppe Grillo has been accused of raping a 19-year-old Scandinavian woman at his father's villa.

Five Star founder Beppe Grillo’s son investigated in gang rape case
The rape allegedly took place at the family's villa in Sardinia. Photo: Depositphotos

The son of Italian stand-up comedian and Eurosceptic political campaigner Beppe Grillo, who founded the Five Star Movement (M5S) political party, is being investigated along with three friends for gang rape, Italian media reported on Friday.

Ciro Grillo, 19, and three friends are accused of raping a 19-year-old woman, described as a “Scandinavian model”, at his father's summer villa in Sardinia’s Costa Smerelda after night out in a disco, La Stampa reported.

The four men, reportedly “the children of Genoan entrepreneurs, doctors and professionals”, insist the sexual relations were consensual, the report said, adding that a video of the incident found on one of their phones was not considered as conclusive evidence.

The M5S is part of Italy's governing coalition and the rape investigation coincides with a return to front-line politics for Beppe Grillo after pushing for the party he founded to join forces with the centre-left.

Five Star Movement founder Beppe Grillo. Photo: AFP

The party was born on Genoa-born founder Beppe Grillo's personal blog, but ahead of elections in 2018 the comedian formally separated his personal site from the party and its backers.

Beppe Grillo has also become notorious in Italy for his controversial statements and blog posts, including one reportedly mocking warnings that Genoa's Morandi bridge could collapse.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Italy's Five Star Movement

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New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.