A British teenager was raped on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean as she enjoyed a holiday with her parents, it is claimed.
Regional newspaper Levante EMV said the 17-year-old victim, who was travelling with her parents, told police her sex attacker forced her into his cabin before raping her.
An Italian arrested over the alleged rape on the ship, which cannot be named for legal reasons, has been freed on a legal technicality.
A British teenager was allegedly raped on cruise ship (pictured) in the Mediterranean as she enjoyed a holiday with her parents, it is claimed. The ship docked at Port Valencia (pictured) at 7.35am and left just after 4pm the same day for Marseille, without the suspect on board but with the British girl and her parents
The arrest happened on Thursday when the ship docked in the Spanish city of Valencia after the captain informed port authorities about an incident on board and they alerted police.
The suspect, an 18-year-old who is understood to live in Italy, was held as he returned to the Panamanian-flagged vessel following a day tour of Valencia.
But he was freed by a duty court in the city – named by Levante EMV as Court of Investigation Number 15 – after the judge concluded he did not have jurisdiction to probe the alleged crime.
The newspaper said the unidentified judge will now urge three countries – Panama, the UK where the complainant lives and Italy – to take action.
News of the arrest and the detainee’s subsequent release – first reported by Levante EMV – has also been reported by other Spanish newspapers.
The release has been linked to reforms of Spain’s use of the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, with reports in Spain claiming the judge had to let the Italian go because the alleged crime was committed by a foreigner on another foreigner in Panamanian territory and international waters.
Levante EMV reported the judge could have claimed jurisdiction over the case only if the Italian man arrested had lived in Spain, and the arrest occurred so the courts could establish if that was the case before discovering through checks he had no residential address in the country.
The sex attack is said to have occurred around 5am on Thursday, when the cruise liner was heading from the Majorcan capital Palma to Valencia.
The ship docked at Port Valencia at 7.35am and left just after 4pm the same day for Marseille, without the suspect on board but with the British girl and her parents.
She was examined at Valencia’s La Fe Hospital as part of a rape crimes protocol. DNA tests are also understood to have taken place in the cabin where the sex attack allegedly occurred and on the British girl’s clothes so they could be analysed at Valencia’s Institute of Forensic Medicine.
The detainee is believed to have been released on Thursday night. He has not been named and his whereabouts today was not known.
No-one from the courts or the police in Valencia was immediately available for comment.
Despite the judge saying that a man was arrested and then released due to a legal technicality, the company that owns the cruise ship, said that it ‘cannot comment further’ as there is an ongoing investigation.
A well-placed source said the ‘ship’s captain had done everything that was appropriate.
She said this included ‘making port authorities in Valencia aware’ and allowing police to board the vessel so they could search the cabin where the alleged sex attack is said to have occurred’
She said the captain also ensured any relevant potential evidence could be taken away.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘As there is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide any additional comment on this matter.
‘Any questions can and should be addressed to the relevant authorities.
‘Additionally, this is a matter that relates to guests who were travelling 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.
‘Finally, please note that contrary to at least one media report, the ship was never held nor released for any ‘technicality.
‘As we are and never were part to the investigation – beyond our role in cooperating with the authorities – this is simply incorrect.’
Spain pioneered the use of the doctrine of universal jurisdiction after it was passed into national law in 1985.
The doctrine allowed judges to try certain cases of crimes against humanity that took place in other countries.
The best known use of the doctrine occurred in 1998 when Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet was briefly arrested in London on an arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge.
It was modified in 2009 and further curbed in 2014.
The Spanish government said recently it wanted to re-establish the doctrine and expand the law to take in economic, financial and environmental crimes.