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Judge Frees Alleged Rapist Because Cruise Ship Was in 'International Waters'

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 4/15/2019 Alex Temblador

A man who allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl on a cruise has been set free via a legal loophole, highlighting how difficult it is for people, especially women, to be protected from crimes like rape while on vacation at sea.

During a cruise on the MSC Divina, a 17-year-old British girl was traveling with her parents when she was forced into a cabin and raped by an 18-year-old Italian man on Thursday morning while the ship was sailing from Palma, Majorca.

The cruise ship’s captain alerted port authorities in Valencia and allowed police to board the ship, search the cabin and arrest the Italian man.

The girl was examined at Valencia’s La Fe Hospital and DNA tests were conducted in the cabin where the rape occurred. Following the examination, the girl continued on the 27-day cruise across Europe with her parents, while the Italian man remained in Valencia.

When he appeared in a Valencia court, the judge said he had no power to investigate the rape because it occurred in international waters and the ship was registered in Panama, thus making it a crime for Panamanian authorities to investigate further. The judge added that since the two people involved in the attack were British and Italian, those two countries and Panama had more authority than Spain and could continue with the case if they choose.

The Italian man was then released.

According to The Telegraph, a spokesperson for MSC Cruises said, “As there is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide any additional comment on this matter.”

“Additionally, this is a matter that relates to guests who were traveling on board one of our ships. Within this context, our company is fully cooperating with the authorities overseeing this investigation, but is not itself in any way subject to it.”

In a statement provided to media, a spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Our consular staff are providing support and assistance to a British woman and her family following an incident on board a cruise ship.”

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