Hours after being cleared of gang rape in Cyprus, the final seven of of a group of accused Israeli teenagers arrived in Israel Sunday evening, with some vowing to sue the British tourist who had made the claim against them only to later retract it.
After five of the suspects were freed last week, the rest of the group of 12 were released from custody Sunday morning, ended their 11-day detention. They and their families celebrated outside the court, dancing and singing religious songs.
Earlier Sunday, the British 19-year-old revised her testimony to say that the sex was consensual, explaining that she filed the complaint because she felt humiliated after they filmed the act without her consent and booted her from the hotel room in the holiday resort town of Ayia Napa where they had been staying, Hebrew-language media reported.
She is now under arrest and “is facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offense,” a police spokesman 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.
One by one, the boys arrived at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday evening, celebrating their release and stating they regretted nothing. They opened champagne bottles and chanted “Am Yisrael Chai” (the people of Israel lives) as well as “the Brit is a whore.”
שחרור הנערים מקפריסין | יונה גולוב שהשתחרר ביום חמישי: "הצדק יצא לאור. אמרתי לעצמי היום – סופסוף נגמר הסיוט הזה. היום שמחתי כששמעתי שהם משתחררים" גולוב ציין כי בכוונת הצעירים להגיש תביעה נגד הבחורה: "על עוגמת הנפש, הוצאת דיבה, אני הולך ברחוב צועקים לי 'אנס'" *כאן 11* pic.twitter.com/pyoxC7GNxD
— ידיעות מהשטח – חמ״ל ???????????????? (@yediotnewsss) July 28, 2019
One of the teens, Yona Golub, who was among the five detainees released on Thursday, told Hebrew-language media that he had come to greet his friends, and added that they intended to file a lawsuit against the teenage woman.
“We will sue her for the anguish caused and for libel,” he said. “I am walking in the street and people are calling me a rapist. I was with two friends who were arrested and they straight away arrested me too. I know my friends were in the room, but I wasn’t, I don’t know the girl.”
“The truth is out,” Golub added. “I told myself, today finally this nightmare ends. I went through tough days. I was happy to hear they were being set free, I was going crazy at home.”
Defense lawyers representing some of the group, Yaniv Habari and Nir Yaslovitzh, similarly told reporters they intended to sue the young woman on behalf of those she accused..
“We will proceed with legal action against the individual that made the false allegations, for damages, for every day and every moment they were in prison falsely,” Habari said.
Yaslovitzh said the young woman “needs to think clearly about what she [did] to the boys who stayed in jail.”
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 network 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.”
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.”
Sunday’s 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.