Israeli tourists plead not guilty in Napa rape trial

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Five Israeli tourists accused of gang-raping a young British woman in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa pleaded not guilty to several counts of rape-related charges, with their trial set for December.

The hearing was adjourned earlier this month after the defence argued they had not received all the available evidence.

The five men, aged 19 to 20 and from the Arab-Israeli town of Majd al-Krum, appeared before Famagusta Criminal Court on Monday, where they denied the charges.

They are accused of rape, sexual assault by penetration, sexual intercourse through violence, rape by compelling sexual penetration, indecent assault against a woman, sexual harassment, and abduction.

Following the plea, their trial dates were scheduled for December 18, 20 and 21, but the court rejected a request by defence lawyers that the accused be released on bail until their hearing.

The five will remain in custody, where they have been since September 4 over the alleged assault of a 20-year-old tourist in the popular party resort of Ayia Napa the day before.

Israeli media reported at the time of the arrests that the woman told police she was forcibly taken from a swimming pool party to a hotel room, where she was raped.

A similar case four years ago in Ayia Napa caused an uproar among women’s rights groups after the alleged victim was herself convicted of causing public mischief.

On that occasion, 12 Israelis were arrested after a British teenage girl reported being sexually attacked.

The Israelis were released after she retracted her statement, although she claimed that the police had pressured her into doing so.

The 19-year-old girl was given a four-month suspended jail term, but her conviction was quashed in 2022 by the Supreme Court.

Police later said they would examine whether mistakes had been made in the investigation, but there was no outcome.