A British woman, 19, was detained for 24 hours on Monday following her arrest on Sunday in connection with making false rape claim against 12 Israeli tourists, all of whom have now been freed and returned home.
The woman was taken to the Famagusta district court in Paralimni on Monday morning where police were to seek a remand order against her, but the hearing was postponed until Tuesday due to the absence abroad of her lawyer.
The woman, who alleged almost two weeks ago that she was gang-raped by 12 Israelis, is facing charges of public mischief after she reportedly confessed under questioning that her encounter with the teenagers was consensual. The offence carries up to a year in prison and/or a fine.
She arrived at court with her head covered, accompanied by an unnamed woman. The 19-year-old listened to the 20-minute proceedings with her head down.
Police on Sunday freed the last seven of the 12 who had been re-remanded on Friday for another six days. Doubts about the woman’s story began after one of the teens she identified as taking part in the gang rape was able to prove he was in bed with his girlfriend who had taken a selfie. The results of DNA tests also cast doubts on her story as did digital evidence obtained by the police.
Authorities on Thursday released five of the 12. Their ages range from 15 to 18. Three of the suspects did admit to having consensual sex with the woman.
According to information, the 19-year-old reportedly admitted that she had consensual sex with some of the Israeli teens but when she realised that others were recording on their cell phones, it angered her and she allegedly decided to get back at them by saying she had been raped.
On Monday the court was packed with reporters from the Cypriot, UK and Israeli media. The story has caused a sensation and outrage in the neighbouring country.
One of the lawyers for the last seven teens released, Nir Yaslovitzh told the Times of Israel. “As I claimed throughout, there was no rape in Cyprus.”
“The youths who went on a vacation that became a nightmare will return to their homes. All of them will return home to their families. Cypriot police carried out a professional and thorough investigation.”
Another lawyer for some of the suspects, Yaniv Havari, 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.”
Havari also said that his clients would take legal action against the woman.
“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,” he was quoted as saying.
When the final seven returned to Israel on Sunday evening, they were greeted by family, well-wishers and media, and champagne, The Times of Israel reported.
Some Israeli journalists and social media users on Monday decried the heroes’ welcome extended to the group of teenagers.
The seven teens were jubilant when they were greeted by their cheering families at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday night.
“In the arrivals hall, the teens, all wearing white yarmulkes, loudly celebrated their release by opening champagne bottles, chanting ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (the people of Israel lives) along with ‘the Brit is a whore’.” They said they did not regret or feel bad about the incident.
But the Times of Israel said, not all media or social media in Israel were jubilant.
“So what we have here is a group of teenage boys, who it turns out are not rapists, just the type of boys who would engage in group sex with a drunk girl, film it without her permission and then send it around to their friends. There’s no doubt, they are obviously good boys,” it quoted Ynet News columnist Hen Artzi-Sror as saying. Also, daily Haaretz said such a display only served to perpetuate rape culture in Israel.
“Many Israelis also pointed out that even though they were exonerated from the rape charges in Cyprus, they would have faced criminal charges for filming the sex if the incident had occurred in Israel,” the Times of Israel said citing social media reactions.
It quoted one of the British woman’s friends saying that even if they didn’t rape her, it was not okay to film someone in a situation like that without their consent and then upload it on the web.
“They humiliated and hurt her, which is why she made the rape complaint in the first place,” she was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannis Karousos told Israel’s Channel 13 news that Cyprus would take legal action against anyone who pushed the rape allegation, “including the girl who gave the alleged statement to police.”
In the coming days, he said, the cabinet would approve the installation of CCTV cameras around Ayia Napa, “the first of their type in Cyprus”.
“Because tourists don’t just have to be safe, they have to feel they are safe.”