UK

Three Syrian men deny sex assault in Newcastle

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Media captionOne of the accused came to the UK under the government’s refugee resettlement programme, as Newsnight's John Sweeney reports.

Three Syrian men have appeared in court accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in a park in Newcastle.

Omar Badreddin, 18, Mohammed Alfrouh, 20, and Mohammad Allakkoud, 18, have pleaded not guilty.

A 16-year-old-boy, understood to be Syrian, has also been charged with sexual assault. It is not known if he has entered a plea yet.

Mr Badreddin came to the UK from Jordan last November under the government's refugee resettlement programme.

He and his family were judged to be vulnerable by the UN refugee agency.

The three adults charged in connection with the alleged incident on 10 May have been released on bail.

Their trial has been set for 26 September.

Mr Alfrouh has also been charged with sexually assaulting a second 14-year-old girl, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The case of the 16 year old will be heard separately by a youth court.

Screened and vetted

Mr Badreddin is one of 1,602 Syrians who have arrived in the UK under the resettlement programme.

The scheme was designed to bring vulnerable Syrian refugees directly from refugee camps in the Middle East to the UK.

Those arriving have been screened and vetted by the UN.

The scheme will see 20,000 refugees come to Britain over the next four years.

The BBC's Newsnight has been following the progress of Syrian refugees and reporter John Sweeney says that although the case is at an early stage, police are concerned that the charges could raise tensions between locals and Syrian refugees in Newcastle.