Teenage Uzbek fencer alleges she was raped by three Italian athletes

MILAN, March 4 (Reuters) - A teenage Uzbek fencer has accused three Italian fellow athletes of raping her during a training camp in Tuscany last summer when she was a minor, her lawyer said on Monday.

The alleged assault took place on the night of Aug. 4-5, 2023 during an international camp for young fencers in Chianciano Terme, near Siena, in which the Uzbek fencer took part along with members of the Italian junior national fencing team.

Three Italian fencers, including a minor, are under formal investigation but their lawyer denies wrongdoing and the Italian Fencing Federation (FIS) has not suspended them.

The names of the alleged victim and of those under investigation have not been disclosed because of privacy rules.

The complainant, who was aged 17 at the time, spoke of waking up with pains and bruises in a hotel room with three boys she had met the night before in a bar, according to her lawyer Luciano Guidarelli.

He added that the victim first told a roommate about the incident and immediately afterwards informed her mother, who was in Italy at the time, and who then accompanied her daughter to hospital and to file a legal complaint.

Siena prosecutors opened a case in August and are still investigating. The case of the accused who is under age is in the hands of a separate prosecutor who deals with juveniles.

A lawyer for the three denied wrongdoing and called for respect for all parties pending a decision by the judiciary.

"My clients plead their innocence, as they have never used violence against anyone," lawyer Enrico De Martino said in a statement.

The alleged offence came to light after Guidarelli spoke to Italian media at the weekend about his concerns over the way the case had been handled by prosecutors and the Italian Fencing Federation (FIS).

In a statement, the Siena prosecutor's office said the case had been dealt with in a timely manner and defended its decision not to impose any restrictions on those under investigation, such as banning them from approaching the victim.

Guidarelli criticised the FIS for not suspending the three athletes.

"This made it possible that the girl then had to meet the three boys again during competition and other training camps with the resulting psychological trauma," he said.

The FIS said in a press release that it had followed the case closely from the outset and would always safeguard the image of the sport.

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi and Silvia Ognibene, editing by Keith Weir and Jon Boyle)

((emilio.parodi@thomsonreuters.com; +39 06 8030 7744; Reuters Messaging:))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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