Two Somali men have been remanded in custody after they pleaded not guilty to raping an Italian woman in Hal Far on March 25 between 2 and 4am.

The men, Abdiraman Abukar, 26, and Liban Mohamoud, 26, both of Floriana, were also charged with are violent indecent assault, holding the woman against her will, harassing her, offending public morals and slightly injuring her.

The 21-year-old Italian, who resides in Valletta, filed a police report saying she was raped on Sunday night by a number of foreigners.

The men also pleaded not guilty to stealing her mobile phone and using violence against the woman.

Mr Mohamud, alone, was charged with driving a car without a licence and breaching bail conditions. Mr Abukar was charged with relapsing.

Police Inspector Yvonne Farrugia told Magistrate Neville Camilleri the men were arrested after their mobile phone numbers were traced from a number of records.

She objected to a bail request because of the nature of the crime, to which, she said, there were several witnesses, including the victim.

Mr Mahmoud had breached previous bail conditions and did not even respect the curfew imposed by another court, Insp. Farrrugia said.

The Abukar had been found guilty of raping another woman.

Insp. Farrugia said the victim identified the two men as her rapists.

Lawyer Cedric Mifsud argued that the court could impose a number of bail conditions to ensure they would follow judicial proceedings. They were immigrants and could not leave the country, he said.

He also said that Mr Abukar, who was in a wheelchair, had a pipe inserted in his stomach to help him with his needs.

But Magistrate Camilleri said the two men were not reliable and could escape from Malta. He also sent a note to the prison director for Mr Abukar to be given all the necessary attention for his medical condition.

The magistrate issued a protection order for the woman and her family. 

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