Five Israelis kept in custody for Napa gang-rape claim

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Five Israeli tourists were re-remanded in Cyprus police custody for six days on Tuesday in connection with an alleged gang rape of a young British woman in the popular resort of Ayia Napa, authorities said.

The five men, aged between 19 and 20, were arrested after a 20-year-old British tourist told police she was gang raped on September 3 at a hotel room in the Mediterranean island’s premier party spot.

Last week, the five were remanded for eight days, and on Tuesday, they reappeared before the Paralimni district court on the southeast coast, where they were ordered to remain in custody for six more days, police said.

They face possible charges of rape, sexual coercion, forced sexual intercourse, sexual harassment, abduction, and indecent assault against a woman.

The state-funded Cyprus News Agency said the arrests came after police secured witness testimony to support the allegation.

It said only three suspects appeared in court Tuesday because the other two are in quarantine after contracting Covid-19.

According to the Philenews website, forensic examiners found injuries and bruises on the 20-year-old British woman.

Swabs were taken from the complainant and sent for scientific testing along with the clothes she wore during the incident.

Israeli media reported the woman told police that she struck up a conversation with one of the suspects by the pool at the hotel in Ayia Napa.

The man then pulled her by the arm to the room and, when inside, tried to remove her swimsuit.

According to the Walla website, the woman said she resisted, but two more men appeared and raped her.

It said the woman picked out the suspects during a police lineup.

The incident is reminiscent of a gang rape case in Ayia Napa four years ago when 12 Israelis were arrested for attacking a teenage British girl.

They were released after the woman retracted her police statement but said police pressured her into doing so.

The 19-year-old was convicted in 2020 for causing public mischief and handed a four-month suspended jail term.

In 2022, the Supreme Court quashed her conviction on appeal after defence lawyers argued there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Police later said they would examine whether mistakes had been made during the investigation.

UK-based justice Abroad, who successfully appealed the conviction, has taken on the new case after the woman’s family requested their help.

Nearby, Cyprus is a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

Official figures for July show they were the second largest group of visitors, accounting for 10.2%, or more than 46,400 arrivals, behind the largest market, the United Kingdom, which made up 34.8% of arrivals.