Finnish court orders 6 Cuban volleyball players held on aggravated rape charge

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A regional court in Finland on Tuesday ordered the detention of six members of Cuba's national men's volleyball team on suspicion of aggravated rape.

The Pirkanmaa District Court said that all six men could be held in police custody for further questioning until Aug. 26, when police should file charges or release them.

Eight members of the Cuban team were detained last weekend after police on Saturday morning received a report that a woman had been raped at a hotel in the city of Tampere, 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of the capital, Helsinki. Police released two of the men on Monday, saying they were not connected to the alleged crime.

The Cuban team was playing in the Volleyball World League tournament in Tampere where they lost 3-1 to Finland on Saturday.

Police officer Joni Lansipuro, the head of the investigation, said the victim was an adult but gave no more information about her. The detention hearing of the six players, ages 19 to 27, was held behind closed doors.

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After the court hearing, reporters asked Lansipuro if the suspects denied being involved in the alleged crime. He responded only: "They all opposed being held in custody."

The Cuban Volleyball Association acknowledged the arrests in a statement Monday night. It said the Finnish investigation was continuing, but added that "early information implicates them in acts that are totally removed from discipline, the sense of honor and respect that govern our sport and society." The statement did not indicate whether the rest of the team had returned to Cuba.

The international volleyball federation, FIVB, said it's "very concerned by the alleged serious misconduct" of the Cuban national team and has been in close contact with all parties involved.

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