By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
ROME, Italy – Two Italian Carabinieri officers have been suspended amid allegations they raped two US students in Florence.
On Friday, September 8, Italy’s defense minister Roberta Pinotti attended a forum on women’s issues in Milan where she stated that “investigation is still underway, but there is some basis in respect to the allegations.”
The rapes reportedly occurred in the early morning hours of September 7th.
Earlier, the women, ages 19 and 21, spent time at a nightclub in Florence. Patrol cars were called to the scene to investigate a fight that had broken out at the club. Two of the three patrol cars departed after the fight had been handled.
After the women were unsuccessful in their efforts to find a taxi, the remaining officers, who were in uniform at the time, offered to drive them home. Witnesses confirmed seeing the women enter the patrol car.
Upon arriving to the residence, the officers allegedly raped the women before they could reach their rooms. The women told investigators they were too frightened to scream during the assault.
Prosecutors in Florence are investigating the incident and have conducted DNA tests to verify the accusations. The results of those tests are pending.
The United State Embassy in Rome declined to comment on the situation “due to the sensitive nature of this case and to protect the privacy of those involved.”
The accused officers have been suspended on a precautionary basis while the investigation continues. The Carabinieri provincial officer command stated that the suspension is separate from the Florence prosecutors’ investigation into the criminal allegations.
In addition to the rape charges, the officers face disciplinary charges from driving the women home without notifying superiors.
“Rape is always a serious matter. But it’s of unprecedented seriousness if it is committed by Carabinieri in uniform, because citizens turn to them and to their uniform to have assurances and security” Pinotti said at the women’s forum.
The paramilitary Carabinieri are one of two of Italy’s main police forces, the other being the state police. The Carabinieri report to the Defense Ministry.
“If this is true, and I hope that light is shed on the matter as soon as possible, then it would be an act of unheard of gravity” said Tullio Del Sette, head of the army.
For more information, please see:
Time – 2 U.S. Students say They Were Raped by Policemen in Italy – 8 September 2017
New York Times – Two American Students Accuse Italian Police of Rape – 9 September 2017
Reuters – U.S. Students’ Rape Allegation has ‘Some Basis’, Minister Says – 9 September 2017
Washington Post – 2 Italian Police Suspended After Alleged Rape of US Students – 9 September 2017