Dylan Djohan, 23, Ashwin Kumar, 23, and Waleed Latif, 21, returned to Melbourne after their case was finalised in the Croatian port city of Split on January 29.

The men, who had their passports seized by Croatian authorities when they were arrested last July, secured their freedom after agreeing to pay their Norwegian victim $A30,000 (FJD$45,820).

The case was due to go back before the courts last Monday, but prosecutors and defence lawyers made a deal to get the men off on a plea and conditional jail sentence.

Under the deal each of the men pleaded guilty to rape and received a sentence of one year in jail, to be immediately suspended to a good behavior bond for five years.

The lawyer for the three men, Jadran Franceschi, confirmed a settlement had been made but declined to comment further.

The court heard the men had been drinking in a bar in the Bacvice area of Split about 1.30am on July 16 last year when one took a 17-year-old Norwegian girl towards the toilets and his two friends joined them. They began to assault her, but she fought them off and reported the incident to police.

Djohan, Kumar and Latif were arrested and charged with rape and having “endangered the girl’s sexual freedom”. Forensic evidence on her clothes linked the three men with having sexually assaulted her.

Two admitted having consensual sex with her while the third is believed to have denied any liaison, although traces suggested otherwise. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman Vanessa Rehn said: “Until the recent finalisation of their case, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided consular assistance to three Australian men in Croatia, in line with the Consular Services Charter.”

Such out-of-court settlements are common in Croatia.

Law expert and Split lawyer Mladen Ostro said: “Deals like this became common in Croatian criminal law in the last few years.”