A group of young Israeli men have been detained in Cyprus after local police said they needed time to investigate accusations of gang-rape from a British woman on holiday in Ayia Napa. The five men, all aged 19 or 20, were remanded on order of a district court magistrate in Famagusta for a further eight days after their arrest late on Sunday. The Briton, who is 20 and cannot legally be identified, told police she had been sexually assaulted by the Israelis after being “taken by force” from the pool area of her hotel to her room. “They will be kept in custody in our holding cells in Paralimni,” said a police officer in Ayia Napa. “We take these allegations seriously.” The Briton was described as “highly distressed.”
The allegations – made on the eve of an official visit to Cyprus by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – have evoked memories of a similar case when a British student accused 12 Israeli teenagers of gang-rape in Ayia Napa. On Monday at least two of the group said they had never met the alleged victim and all rejected the accusation of gang-rape. Cypriot police, who last year attended UK-funded courses on best practice in the handling of rape and serious sexual assault cases, will focus their inquiry on CCTV footage from the hotel, well-placed sources said. The suspects are expected to testify before investigators in the coming days. “The CCTV footage should show whether she was taken against her will, and by force to the room,” said a police official.
In 2020, a British woman from Derbyshire accused a group of Israeli tourists of gang-rape. She was subsequently found guilty of “causing public mischief” and fabricating the claim, spending six weeks in Nicosia central prison before her conviction was overturned by the country’s supreme court.
The Israelis, who were allowed to return home in what campaigners called the beginnings of a great miscarriage of justice, had vigorously denied the accusation.