Italian police have arrested four people in connection with the alleged gang-rape of two British girls in the south of the country.
The rape reportedly took place on Monday night at a house party in Marconia di Pisticci, a town of about 8,000 people in the Matera area of the Basilicata region.
The four men, from Pisticci, are accused of rape and grievous bodily harm.
Their arrests and custody were ordered by the Matera prosecutor, Angelo Onorati, owing to the “brutality, severity and savagery of the violence committed, in devious ways, that could be repeated against other women”.
The men arrested are aged between 19 and 23, police said during a press conference in Matera on Friday. Another four men, yet to be identified, are also alleged to have taken part in the group rape, which reportedly occurred in the garden of a villa where the party was taking place.
Police authorities in Matera said on Thursday: “On the night between 7-8 September, in Marconia di Pisticci, sexual violence was committed against two foreign minors who were at a party in a villa. The investigative unit of Matera police headquarters has begun investigations in coordination with the public prosecutor’s office.”
Reports in the local press claim the girls, who were in the seaside town on holiday, were slapped and punched before being raped by more than one person.
The girls reported the alleged rape after calling an ambulance and being admitted to Madonna della Grazie hospital in Matera. They were in a state of shock and marks on their bodies showed signs of violence, according to the reports. The news agency Adnkronos said the girls had since been discharged from hospital.
According to investigators, the girls attended the party accompanied by an older sister of one of the pair. Soon after arriving at what was said to have been a birthday celebration open to anyone, they were approached by two of the suspects.
The girls immediately told the sister of one what had happened and reported the incident to police after returning home.
Giuseppe Rago, a lawyer for the girls, described the violence committed against them as “unprecedented”.