5 of 12 suspects held in Cyprus rape case released, returning to Israel
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5 of 12 suspects held in Cyprus rape case released, returning to Israel

Attorney for several of the Israeli teens claims there are ‘cracks in the credibility of the plaintiff’s testimony’; release also said tied to arrival of DNA test results

Twelve Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, arrive at the court premises in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 18, 2019, for a remand hearing conducted behind closed doors. (AFP)
Twelve Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, arrive at the court premises in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 18, 2019, for a remand hearing conducted behind closed doors. (AFP)

Five of the 12 Israeli suspects held over the suspected gang rape of a British tourist in Cyprus were freed Thursday. They were set to return to Israel shortly.

According to Hebrew media reports, the release may be tied to the results of DNA tests of samples taken from the scene of the alleged rape, which came in earlier in the day.

“I’m not guilty, everything is alright,” one of the teens told the Ynet news site. Asked about the other suspects who remain held, he said: “I don’t know what’s going on with them. I don’t know what they did, if they did. I don’t know anything.”

Nir Yaslovitzh, the attorney of one of the teens being freed claimed the release also pointed to “cracks in the credibility of the plaintiff’s testimony.”

Yaslovitzh, who represents several of the other suspects, said he hoped more releases would be forthcoming and vowed to continue to work to that end.

Attorney Yaniv Havari, who represents a number of suspects who remain in custody, claimed more will be freed in the coming days.

According to the Ynet news site, Cypriot police are expected to ask a court to extend the remand of the other seven suspects.

The 12 Israelis were arrested in the resort town of Ayia Napa last week on suspicion that they took part in the gang rape of the 19-year-old British tourist. Some have reportedly admitted to having consensual sex with the woman, while others are thought to have possibly just been present in the room at the time.

The British woman filed a police complaint last Wednesday against the Israelis, ranging in age from 15 to 18, who were staying at the Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel, on the island nation’s southeastern coast.

The woman apparently — according to Cypriot media reports — had a previous relationship with at least one of the suspects. But on the night in question, she reportedly said others helped hold her down forcibly in a hotel room at the resort and more than one person may have raped her before she escaped.

Some of the suspects reportedly filmed some of the events on their phones, which police have confiscated.

In this file photo taken on September 7, 2017, tourists sunbathe at the beach in the resort town of Ayia Napa in southeastern Cyprus. (Florian Choblet/AFP)

According to Cypriot media, the top police investigator in the case said that the versions of events offered by the central suspects are extremely similar to each other, and that he suspects that they coordinated their statements before their arrest.

All the suspects, for example, reportedly urged investigators to check lobby security footage showing the woman hugging and kissing one of them in public.

According to Israeli reports, the investigation has focused on three of the Israelis, one of them the youth who had initially invited the woman to the hotel room. The three suspects have been interrogated repeatedly in recent days, and have insisted the sex was consensual and offered cellphone video footage they said proved it.

Channel 12 reported Saturday that the woman told the police two of the suspects held her down by the arms as she cried to be let go. She said that their friends then raped her, taking turns, and that several beat her.

Two of the twelve Israeli tourists suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, arrive at the court in Paralimni, Cyprus with their faces covered, on July 18, 2019. (AFP)

“I do remember that until about 1:00 a.m., the friends I did not know raped me, some wore a condom, and some didn’t. They hurt my whole body… one of them held me down, and then I saw at least 12 faces … for an hour or so, one after the other,” she told police, according to the report.

“After they let me go I fainted, and then I ran out of the room, met friends and they took me half-naked to the clinic,” she said.

According to the Channel 12 report, nine of the 12 Israelis admitted to being in the room when the alleged rape occurred and three refused to answer police questions. Haaretz reported on Saturday that police found five used condoms and 13 condom wrappers in the room where the alleged rape occurred.

Separately, Channel 12 news reported Thursday that a number of recent high-profile cases of group sexual assault in Israel has led to a rash of fresh complaints in recent weeks by victims of such attacks on assistance hotlines.

It also reported that between 2012 and 2015, 1,645 separate complaints of sexual assaults by groups were received at support centers in the country.

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