Prosecutors in Italy have begun investigating claims by two U.S. college students that they were raped by Carabinieri policemen who escorted them home from a nightclub. The two women, who were identified only as a 19-year-old and 21-year-old studying in Florence, say the incident occurred on Thursday, when the policemen allegedly offered to drive the students home in their patrol car. The students say they were then raped inside their residence before they could get to their rooms. The two policemen deny the accusations, though Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said late Friday that “there’s some basis regarding the allegations.” “Rape is always a serious matter. But it’s of unprecedented seriousness if it is committed by Carabinieri in uniform,” Pinotti told a news conference. The Carabinieri, a paramilitary police patrol, is under the control of the Defense Ministry.