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8 Italians suspected in sexual assault of British girls

MILAN – Police in southern Italy have arrested four men and are investigating another four on suspicion of sexually assaulting two British girls at a villa where a party was being held, authorities said Friday.

The vacationing 15-year-old girls, who spoke no Italian, met the male suspects at the party they attended with the adult sister of one in the southern province of Matera. Police said two of the young Italian males won their trust by acting in a friendly manner while also taking advantage of the girls' “altered state” from consuming alcohol.

As the party of about 50 people went on inside the villa, the adult sister lost sight of the girls, investigators said.

Private surveillance video released by police showed one of the minors, stumbling and appearing to protest, being pushed by one male toward a dark corner behind the villa after midnight on Sept. 7, joined by three others. Police said they were then followed by three males with the other minor. Police said the two girls were then sexually assaulted, in separate attacks that lasted about 15 minutes.

Video shows the suspects then leaving the darkened area and scattering.

The girls contacted police several hours later, and were treated at a hospital.

The suspects range in age from 19 to 23. The four arrested were positively identified by the girls, according to police, while three others were identified from the video. Police are seeking the identify of the eighth suspect.

Police said they acted swiftly due to evidence of the "brutality of the violence committed in a subtle manner that could have been repeated against other helpless women."