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Italian authorities investigate sexual abuse, murder of 26 Nigerian women at Mediterranean Sea



Italian prosecutors have launched an investigation into the deaths of 26 Nigerian women who were sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Reports say the bodies of the women mostly teenagers, aged 14-18 were recently recovered at sea even as five migrants are being questioned over their deaths in the southern port of Salerno.

“It’s a tragedy. The prosecutor’s office will begin looking into it immediately,” Salerno’s prefect Salvatore Malfi said.

“We will need to see whether there are suspects to concentrate on or whether the murder inquiry will proceed against persons unknown,” he said.

Italian police sources say investigators would be looking for signs of violence against the women.

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“They were on a dinghy that was also carrying men,” Malfi told Italian media in response to fears the doomed vessel may have been a sex-trade boat carrying victims destined for prostitution.

“The sex trafficking routes are different. Loading women onto a boat is too risky, the traffickers would not do it as they could lose all their ‘goods’ — as they describe them — in one fell swoop,” he said.

According to reports by the BBC, twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people and the women’s bodies are being kept in the refrigerated section of a warship following several rescues at the Mediterranean Sea.

Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Republica reports.

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