Fashion student Serena Bowes faces extradition
Fashion student Serena Bowes faces extradition to Italy after being accused of making up rape story. A student who was allegedly raped while on a college trip to Italy, has been told she could be extradited and charged with making the story up. Serena Bowes, 21, was visiting Florence as part of her fashion degree, when she claims she was raped by a man in a nightclub bathroom. She reported the alleged attack to the Italian police and was also examined by a doctor at a hospital in Florence. But after returning home and attempting to get on with her life, she was astonished to receive a letter from the Italian Police stating that she could be charged falsifying the rape and faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
Miss Bowes, who has waived her right to anonymity, strongly denies the allegation and is refusing to return to Florence to answer the charges, because the memory of the attack is too painful.
It is thought the Italian authorities could use the controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to try to bring about Miss Bowes" extradition. She and her worried mother are now seeking legal help to challenge the charges, but have been warned the trial could take place in her absence if she does not return to Italy. Miss Bowes said: "It"s as if I"m telling someone else"s story. I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.
"If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over." Her mother, Adele, 41, added: "It"s like my hands are tied behind my back and I"m waiting for them to kidnap my daughter." The incident unfolded when Miss Bowes, who is in the second year of her fashion course, joined other students on a trip to Florence.
She explained how she and a group of friends had been in a local nightclub when she began chatting to a man. She alleged that they had been heading to the VIP area when she was guided towards the unisex bathroom where the attack happened. Miss Bowes alerted staff from Newcastle College who accompanied her to the police station and to the local hospital. After returning to the UK she attempted to put the incident behind her as no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence. When she received a letter in Italian from the Florence Police she assumed it was an update on the case, but when she got it translated, was stunned to discover that she herself was facing charges. She said: "I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life. I didn"t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back. "It doesn"t feel what actually happened is the problem anymore � it feels like that has actually been forgotten about." A Home Office spokesperson: "As a matter of long standing policy and practice we neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request has been made or received until such time as an arrest is made in relation to that request."