Five Israelis held in Cyprus over alleged gang rape

Ayia Napa is known among tourists for its party atmosphere (Christina ASSI)
Ayia Napa is known among tourists for its party atmosphere (Christina ASSI)

Five Israeli tourists were remanded in Cyprus police custody on Monday in connection with an alleged gang rape of a young British woman in the popular resort of Ayia Napa, authorities said.

The five men, aged between 19 and 20, were arrested Sunday after a 20-year-old British tourist told police she was gang raped at a hotel room in the Mediterranean island's premier party spot.

They appeared before Paralimni district court on the southeast coast, where they were ordered held in custody for eight days on suspicion of rape, police said.

They said the suspects will be held to facilitate their investigation. The state-funded Cyprus News Agency said the arrests came after police secured witness testimony to support the allegation.

According to the Cypriot Philenews website, the five Israelis and the Briton will undergo medical examinations.

Israel's foreign ministry said the Israeli embassy in Cyprus received reports Monday morning that six Israelis have been arrested for "suspected raping of a British tourist".

The ministry said officials are in touch with Cypriot authorities as well as with families of the detained Israelis.

The incident is reminiscent of a similar gang rape case in Ayia Napa four years ago when 12 Israelis were arrested for an attack on a teenage British girl.

They were released after the woman retracted her police statement, but said police pressured her into doing do. The 19-year-old was convicted in 2020 for causing public mischief, and handed a four-month suspended jail term.

In 2022 the Supreme Court quashed her conviction on appeal, after defence lawyers argued there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Police later said they would examine whether mistakes had been made during the investigation.

Nearby Cyprus is a popular destination for Israeli tourists. Official figures for July show they were the second largest group of visitors, accounting for 10.2 percent, or more than 46,400 arrivals, behind the largest market the United Kingdom which made up 34.8 percent of arrivals.