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Five Israelis to stand trial in gang rape case

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Five Israeli tourists will stand trial on October 5 accused of the gang rape of a young Briton in the popular holiday resort of Ayia Napa, a court ruled Monday.

The Famagusta district court in Paralimni decided to refer the five for trial before the criminal court next month.

Police said they face charges of rape, sexual coercion, forced sexual intercourse, sexual harassment, abduction and indecent assault against a woman.

They will be asked to plea to the charges when they next appear in court.

On Tuesday, the district court will rule whether to grant a prosecution request that the five should remain in police custody until their trial date or be released on conditional bail, said police.

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 in a hotel room at the seaside resort.

They have been held in custody since September 4.

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

According to the Cypriot Philenews website, forensic examiners found injuries and bruises on the woman.

Israeli media reported she told police she struck up a conversation with one suspect by the hotel pool and that he pulled her by the arm to the room and then tried to remove her swimsuit.

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

It said the woman picked out the suspects from 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 she retracted her statement but said police pressured her into doing so.

The 19-year-old was convicted in 2020 for causing public mischief and given 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 in the investigation.

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

Official tourism figures for August show Israelis were the second largest group of visitors to Cyprus at 14.9 percent, a yearly increase of 32,804 to 76,130 arrivals, behind Britain at 35.9 percent.