'Sex was consensual, but was filmed without her consent'

British tourist said to admit she made up gang rape since she felt ‘humiliated’

Families of freed suspects sing songs praising God outside Cyprus court as details emerge of 19-year-old woman’s revised testimony; she’s now under arrest, expected to be charged

Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, leave the court premises in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 26, 2019. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)
Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, leave the court premises in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 26, 2019. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)

The British tourist who had claimed she was a victim of a gang rape in Cyprus has revised her testimony to say that the sex was consensual, explaining that she filed the complaint against 12 Israeli teenagers because she felt humiliated after they filmed the act without her consent and booted her from the hotel room, Hebrew-language media reported Sunday.

After five of the suspects were freed last week, the remaining seven were released from custody Sunday, police said. They and their families celebrated outside the court, dancing and singing religious songs.

The 19-year-old woman is now under arrest and “is facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offense,” a police spokesman said earlier. “Rape never took place,” another police source said.

She will be indicted in court on Monday, a police source was cited by Israeli media as saying. Police were said to have summoned her friends to give testimony.

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.

Overnight, Cypriot investigators presented the woman with the suspects’s account, along with video clips obtained from their phones that show her smiling during the incident, Channel 12 reported.

She broke down in tears and admitted filing the complaint because she felt humiliated after one of the boys kicked her out of the hotel room, the television said.

“I went down from the room and met two of my friends. I told them what had happened and they immediately told me to file a complaint with police,” she was quoted by Channel 12 as saying.

Investigators then understood she had been lying and decided to arrest her. After questioning her for hours, the order was given in the morning to release the remaining suspects.

The Israeli teenager who had been considered the main suspect, upon being released from custody, said that “the truth has been revealed.”

“God will punish her. We don’t care whether she is prosecuted, the main thing is that she has been arrested,” he added. “All the teenagers coming to Ayia Napa need to be careful.”

Israeli suspects cover their faces with their shirts as they arrive at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralamni, Cyprus, July 26, 2019 (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The suspects told Channel 12 that she agreed to be filmed and “everything was consensual.”

“She said ‘close the door,’ for the children [so they shouldn’t see], she wanted sex,” one of the suspects told the network.

Cyprus will take legal action against anyone who helped promote the lie, Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannis Karousos told Israel’s Channel 13 news, “including the girl who gave the alleged statement to police.”

“In the following days, the council of ministers will approve the installation of CCTV cameras around the city of Ayia Napa, the first of their type in Cyprus,” he added. “Because tourists don’t just have to be safe, they have to feel they are safe.”

Tourists walk around the Cypriot resort town of Ayia Napa on July 18, 2019. (Matthieu Clavel/AFP)

“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.

Nir Yaslovitzh, the attorney for some of the Israeli teenagers suspected of raping a British tourist in Cyprus, speaking outside the Cyprus court on July 26, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

“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.

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. Bruises and scratches were found on her lower body.

AFP contributed to this report.

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