Italian police have detained two men accused of involvement in a series of sexual assaults during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Milan.
Abdallah Bouguedra, 21, and Abdelrahman Ahmed Mahmoud Ibrahim, 18, are accused of “serious sexual assault accompanied by the robbery of mobile phones and handbags”, Milan’s acting prosecutor, Riccardo Targetti said. Targetti said that the pair were taken into custody because there was a “concrete risk” they would try to flee, considering the serious allegations against them.
They are accused of being part of a gang that sexually assaulted at most nine women during celebrations held in front Milan’s cathedral, Piazza del Duomo. Ibrahim’s lawyer claimed that his client told police he was on the square, but denied any involvement.
Police raped the homes of 18 suspects on Tuesday, with three of them under the age limit of 18,. Twelve suspects are currently under investigation. The suspects were either of Italian origin or foreign nationals.
The case prompted comparisons with the mass sexual attacks and muggings that took place in the German city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve in 2015-16.
Several women, including two Germans, reported their experiences in the days following New Year’s Eve. The number of victims jumped to nine on Tuesday. Police suspect that more women were attacked.
The women told similar stories about being dragged into crowds, shoved, and groped during fireworks displays. A 19-year-old woman alleged that she was set upon by a gang of youths at about 1. 30am attacked her for approximately one minute before she was rescued by help. Her friend was able to escape.
Corriere della Sera was told by a Milan investigator that the women were “passed about like rag dolls” with one victim being held [suspect], while the other was abused.
The two German women claimed they were sexually assaulted and pushed against walls. After returning to Germany, they filed their reports.
One young lady suffered scrapes after her jumper was torn, and her trousers were pulled down. Police took her to the hospital for an examination. Another victim was attacked in a nearby street.
Police identified suspects using CCTV images, victims’ accounts and witnesses as well as analysis of social media posts.
Milan’s mayor Giuseppe “Beppe” Sala has apologized to the victims, “also in behalf of the City”.
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