Court renews detention of 5 Israelis in Cyprus police custody after U.K. woman accuses them of rape

PARALIMNI, Cyprus (AP) — A Cyprus court on Tuesday extended the detention of five Israelis for another six days after a British woman accused them of gang-raping her in a hotel room during a pool party in the coastal resort town of Ayia Napa.

Famagusta District Court Judge Petros Theophilou ruled that there’s “reasonable suspicion” that the Israeli nationals may be implicated in the case and should remain in detention until police can complete gathering more evidence, including checking their cellphones for video or images relating to the incident.

The suspects — three aged 19 and the other two 20 — are expected to plead to charges including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and abduction at their next court appearance.

Yiannis Habaris, a lawyer for three of the defendants and lawyers from the firm Gabriel Kaimakliotis representing the other two, said they had no objections to the remand renewal.

Two of the suspects weren’t present in the courtroom because they were in isolation recovering from COVID-19, the lawyers said.

Police investigator Andreas Nikolettis told the court that the 20-year-old British woman said one of the five Israelis had “forcibly” taken her to his room after grabbing her hand while she was partying with friends around the hotel pool on Sept. 3.

According to the woman’s statement to police, the Israeli tried to remove her bathing suit while she pleaded with him to let her leave. The other suspects then entered the room. One had intercourse with her against her will and another forced her to perform oral sex while another two held her down in the bed.

She said one suspect also held her up against the wall and had intercourse with her.

At some point, she managed to lock herself in the bathroom and began shouting for help. She managed to flee the room by pushing the suspects aside and rejoined her friends who went with her to report the rape to the police.

Nikolettis said the woman who was in a “bad psychological state” identified the five suspects in a line-up. According to the investigator, the suspects were found trying to clean up blood stains on the floor of the hotel room using bed sheets.

A friend of the woman had told investigators that he saw her leaving the pool area with one of the Israelis, but he didn’t see the suspect using any force.

Two of the suspects admitted to having intercourse and oral sex with the woman, but insisted it was consensual and denied committing rape. The other three said they had no sexual contact with the woman.

There were no closed-circuit television installations at the hotel.

About a dozen friends and relatives of the suspects were present in the courtroom during the hearing.

Ayia Napa is popular with young tourists from across Europe who enjoy the resort’s multitude of nightclubs, bars, white-sand beaches and lively nightlife.