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2 Vicenza soldiers accused of beating, raping pregnant woman

VICENZA, Italy — Two Vicenza-based soldiers accused of beating, robbing and raping a pregnant woman earlier this month are being detained in the barracks under house arrest pending proceedings in an Italian court.

One of the men already stands accused of raping a 17-year-old girl last year in a case still winding its way through Italian courts. That soldier was not held in detention after the first reported rape in November because the judge said he was not likely to commit a similar offense, according to the Vicenza Giornale newspaper.

Both soldiers, with the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, were placed under “house arrest” this month in their barracks at Caserma Del Din by order of an Italian magistrate, said Maj. Mike Weisman, a unit spokesman.

“The two soldiers are under continuous military supervision and are subject to inspections at any time from Italian law enforcement or judicial authorities,” Weisman said.

According to accounts in the Italian press, the two men raped, beat and robbed a 24-year-old Romanian woman, who allegedly sometimes worked as a prostitute, after first agreeing to pay her for sex. According to the accounts, she was six months pregnant.

The two allegedly hit her in the face and stomach and left her naked in a forested area. She reported the license plate number of the car the men were driving to police, according to Italian media. She is recovering at San Bartolo hospital in Vicenza.

U.S. military officials have not confirmed any details in the case, just as the Army has for months declined to provide any information in the November rape case, referring all questions to Italian authorities. The U.S. military also refused to identify the soldiers, as they have not yet been charged.

In Italy, suspects are not charged until after a preliminary investigation. That process can take months, or even years. The soldier accused of two rapes has still not been charged in the November case, Weisman said.

“The two American soldiers will be tried in Italy. There will be no waiver of jurisdiction,” Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said on Twitter Friday.

Weisman said that Italy also has formally declined to cede jurisdiction in the November case.

The status of forces agreement between the U.S. and NATO nations generally provides for host nations to prosecute U.S. troops for crimes committed in their countries, if they choose, with the exception of crimes committed while in the course of duty and those committed against other U.S. troops.

But the SOFA also provides for the U.S. military to request that criminal jurisdiction be ceded by a host nation and given to military authorities. Military authorities routinely request jurisdiction. Experts say it is usually granted in lesser crimes. But in felonies such as rape and murder, host nations usually decline to cede jurisdiction, experts say.

montgomery.nancy@stripes.com

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