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Ayia Napa gang rape trial gets underway, DNA report requested

women activists hold a banner in support of an allegedly raped british woman outside the courthouse in paralimni
Women activists hold a banner in support of an allegedly raped British woman while relatives of five Israeli men, accused of this alleged rape, walk outside the courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus October 5, 2023. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

The Ayia Napa gang rape trial began with an adjournment at Famagusta criminal court on Thursday, after the defence lawyers said key documentation had not been submitted to them, including the DNA report.

Five Israeli men aged 19 and 20, are currently facing rape and sexual assault charges after a 20-year-old British tourist alleged she was gang raped by them last month. Three judges are hearing the case.

A packed courtroom in Famagusta was filled with relatives of the suspects who turned up in a show of support. Many could not fit into the courtroom.

The defendants all hail from Majd al-Krum.

The alleged rape took place at the Fedrania Gardens hotel, where a pool party was taking place.

Former Akel MP Skevi Koukouma also attended the hearing with a small team from women’s group association (Pogo), saying they were there to send a message that “victims should feel they can speak out and can be believed. They are not alone”.

They held posters outside reading “sister, we believe you.”

Three of the suspects sported a buzzcut and remained with a straight face for most of Thursday’s hearing. One was seen winking at a relative who was following the proceedings.

With their hands tied in front of them, all suspects wore either black or white t-shirts, while two defendants appeared slightly more nervous with their eyes downcast at times, averting their gaze from the proceedings.

Three of the suspects are represented by Maria Neophytou, and another two by Paris Loizou, who is cooperating with Israeli lawyer Nir Yaslovitz.

Yaslovitz in 2019 represented Israeli defendants that were accused of gang raping another British tourist, who was aged 20 at the time.

During the court proceedings, the DNA report became a topic of contention, with Loizou arguing his clients – two defendants – were not even in the same room at the time of the alleged incident. Without a DNA report, he said there could be no evidence linking them to the scene, urging the judge to release them on bail, saying they had rented out an apartment in Ayia Napa that they could pay for the full year, along with a €40,000 in bail.

Neophytou said she had still not received all of the witness material including reports on the DNA and fingerprints as well as photographic material.

“The DNA report is of paramount importance in this case. We have been waiting for it for one month and one day and we still have not received it,” Loizou charged in court.

The state prosecutor said she was not deliberately withholding anything; the DNA report was simply not ready yet. After a 15-minute recess where the judge asked her to find out a date of when it would be ready, the prosecutor said the DNA report would be ready within the day.

Loizou withdrew his request for bail, as the next date of the trial will be heard on October 16.

The defendants will be held in custody until the next session.

After the hearing came to an end, the families rushed to embrace the defendants, with one visibly crying as he hugged his mother in a tight embrace.

Last year, Cyprus’s Supreme Court acquitted a British woman who had been wrongfully convicted by a lower court of lying about being gang raped by 12 Israeli men in July, 2019.

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