5 Israelis arrested on suspicion of gang-raping British woman in Cyprus

20-year-old says she was assaulted in her hotel room; Foreign Ministry says it is in contact with relatives of detained men; Cypriot reports say suspects ordered held for 8 days

FILE -- A motorcyclist police officer escorts and guards a police van, Nicosia, Cyprus, June 24, 2019 (Petros Karadjias/AP)
FILE -- A motorcyclist police officer escorts and guards a police van, Nicosia, Cyprus, June 24, 2019 (Petros Karadjias/AP)

Five Israelis have been arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of gang-raping a British woman, it was announced Monday.

The 20-year-old woman told Cypriot authorities on Sunday that she was sexually assaulted by the men in her hotel in the Ayia Napa region, the Daily Mail reported.

The newspaper said that as a result of the woman’s description of the suspects, three Israelis aged 19 and two aged 20 were arrested.

The Cypriot Philenews website said the Famagusta District Court ordered the suspects to be detained for eight days.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Israeli embassy in Cyprus had been informed of the arrest of what it initially said were six Israeli nationals on suspicion of rape, and was in contact with Cypriot authorities.

In addition, the Foreign Ministry said it was in contact with the families of the detained suspects.

A view of Nissi Beach and the sea in southeast resort of Ayia Napa, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

The suspects are being represented by Nir Yaslovitz, the defense attorney in an apparently similar case in 2019.

“According to the police in Cyprus, there is a serious suspicion, but unfortunately we have experience with such cases. I hope that the truth will come out,” he told Channel 12 news.

Nir Yaslovitzh outside the Cyprus court on July 26, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

The suspected rape echoed a case that made international headlines in 2019, in which an unnamed woman alleged that she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists, aged 15 to 22, in a hotel room in the seaside holiday resort of Ayia Napa. She was 18 at the time.

The Israeli teenagers and young men denied any wrongdoing and were eventually released from custody and allowed to return home.

When they arrived back in Israel after their release without charge, they received a hero’s welcome. The Israelis have not denied that they had sexual relations with the woman, but claim it was consensual.

Israeli teens who were cleared of rape allegations in Cyprus reunite with family members at Ben Gurion Airport on July 28, 2019. (Flash90)

Several months later the young woman was convicted of lying about the incident, but defense lawyers successfully overturned her conviction in the Cypriot Supreme Court in January 2022, arguing there had been a miscarriage of justice when a district court found her guilty of public mischief and handed her a suspended four-month jail term.

Later that year the woman announced she planned to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights after Cypriot authorities ruled out a new investigation of her claim.

Read more: The long arc: 3 years on, the Cyprus gang rape case begins to bend the other way

Last month, a British tourist filed a police report alleging she was raped by an Israeli man and filmed by three of his friends in Athens, Greek media reported.

The British woman said that while the two were engaged in consensual relations, three of the Israeli’s friends appeared and began filming them on their cellphones.

The woman then tried to leave, but the man forced her to stay and raped her, she told police.

An Israeli protests in solidarity with the British teenager convicted in Cyprus of making false gang rape outside the Cyprus Embassy in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

At the end of June, Protothema reported that another British woman, 19, told police she met two Israelis whom she brought back to her hotel room and began having sex with one of them, but then noticed the other was filming them. When she challenged them about the activity they allegedly fled the room.

The announcement of the arrests in Cyprus came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making an official visit to the Mediterranean nation.

On Sunday, Israeli-French mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz was arrested in Cyprus on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Romania for a corruption conviction.

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