Seven Israelis held in Cyprus on suspicion of gang raping a teenage British tourist in Cyprus earlier this month were released from custody Sunday, as police turned their attention to their accuser. The tourist has changed her testimony, saying the sex was consensual but that she filed the complaint against 12 Israeli teenagers because she felt humiliated by the fact that they filmed the act without her consent, Hebrew-language media reported Sunday, citing Cypriot press and police.
“All seven Israelis have been released, since 10 a.m.,” police spokesman Christos Andreou told AFP. “The young woman will be taken to court tomorrow morning (Monday).”
Relatives of the Israelis celebrated their release, singing, “Our father in heaven, how good is God,” in footage broadcast on Israel’s Channel 12 news on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier, a police source said the British teenager had been arrested. “She is facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offense,” the police source told AFP. “Rape never took place,” one police source told Reuters.
Cypriot media said that she is suspected of filing a false complaint against the Israelis because they filmed her during the sex acts without having received her consent to do so.
“As I claimed throughout, there was no rape in Cyprus,” said Nir Yaslovitzh, an attorney for some of the suspects. “The youths who went on a vacation that became a nightmare will return to their homes today. All of them will return home to their families. Cypriot police carried out a professional and thorough investigation.”
Yaniv Havari, another Israeli attorney who represents a number of the suspects, told the Kan public broadcaster that his clients were able to provide convincing evidence that they did not commit the crime.
“She lied, she said 12 of them raped, that is what she claimed,” Havari said. “For nearly two weeks that is what she has claimed and after all 12 of the detainees gave their version, it seems her version doesn’t stand up.”
The dramatic development came after last week five of the Israeli suspects in the case were released and returned to Israel, though Cypriot police seemed poised at the time to file rape charges against at least three of those still being held.
In addition to those three detained suspects, whose DNA had been found at the scene, police had said they believed three other individuals may have been involved in the alleged crime — with analysis of DNA collected from the alleged victim’s body showing three unrecognized samples.
Twelve Israelis in all were arrested in the resort town of Ayia Napa last week on suspicion that they took part in the alleged gang rape. Some reportedly admitted to having consensual sex with the woman, while others were thought to have possibly been present in the room at the time.
The British woman filed a police complaint a week and a half ago 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 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.
Cypriot police found five used condoms and 13 condom wrappers in the room where the alleged rape occurred, reports said.
AFP contributed to this report.