Donald Trump has refused to apologise to five men falsely accused of rape whose case has been made into a Netflix drama.

The so-called Central Park Five, all black or Hispanic, were convicted of a 1989 attack on a white woman in New York City, only to be freed years later when another man admitted to the highly publicised crime.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump has refused to apologise to five men who were wrongly accused of rape (AP Photo/John Raoux)

At the time, Mr Trump, then a Manhattan real estate mogul, took out a newspaper advert calling for the then-teenagers’ executions.

The case has been brought back into the public eye since Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us arrived on Netflix.

Ahead of launching his bid for re-election in 2020, the president was asked by reporters on Tuesday if he would like to apologise for his part in the case.

Instead, Mr Trump refused, suggesting the city of New York was wrong to pay compensation to the men and referred to confessions later withdrawn.

Ava DuVernay
Director Ava DuVernay highlighted the case of the so-called Central Park Five in a Netflix series (Ian West/PA)

He said: “Why do you bring that question up now? It’s an interesting time to bring it up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt.

“If you look at Linda Fairstein and you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So, we’ll leave it at that.”

DuVernay, apparently responding to Mr Trump’s comments, shared a clip from When They See Us to Twitter, showing two characters discussing the future president’s influence on the case.

When They See Us is a fictionalised re-examination of the case, which the New York Times called “one of the most widely publicised crimes of the 1980s”.

The series, released on Netflix in May, begins in 1989 when the men are first questioned by police, later showing their exoneration in 2002 and the 2014 settlement they reached with the city of New York.

Following the show’s release, Fairstein, who prosecuted the case, has been heavily criticised for her role.