Cyprus detains 12 Israeli men over allegations of gang rape of British teenager

Nick Squires
Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, arrive at a court in the town of Paralimni  - AFP

Twelve Israeli tourists were remanded in custody for eight days by a court in Cyprus for the alleged gang rape of a 19-year-old British woman at a popular holiday resort on the island.

The Israelis were arrested on Wednesday after the British teenager told police that she had been raped at the hotel where she was staying in the beach resort of Ayia Napa.

Doctors who treated the woman said they found bruises and scratches on her body.

The suspects, aged 16 to 18, were staying in the same hotel.

The young men covered their faces with their t-shirts as they arrived handcuffed at the court in the nearby town of Paralimni, in the southeast of Cyprus. One broke down in tears. Some were accompanied by their parents.

The hearing was held behind closed doors because some of the suspects are minors.

The suspects covered their faces as they arrived at court Credit: Petros Karadjis/AP

A judge accepted a request by Cypriot police to remand the men in custody for eight days while an investigation is launched into the rape allegation.

They have not yet been charged with any offence.

Three of the men allegedly raped the British tourist while others filmed the attack on their mobile phones, local media reports said.

Ioannis Habaris, a lawyer representing four of the suspects, told The Associated Press it was unclear exactly how many of the men were implicated in the alleged rape.

He said there was "some evidence" the British woman was involved in a "relationship" with one of the suspects.

Tourists on a beach on the outskirts of the resort of Ayia Napa in Cyprus Credit: Amir Makar/AFP

Nir Yaslovitzh, an Israeli lawyer representing three other suspects, said the 12 teenagers had arrived in Ayia Napa in three separate groups.

Some were having a holiday prior to being drafted into the Israeli army for compulsory military service.

He said police were trying to flush out the perpetrators among the group by arresting all 12 and having them detained.

"I think it's a trick," Mr Yaslovitzh told AP. "They want to know how my clients will (react)."

The Foreign Office said British authorities were "supporting a British woman who was assaulted in Cyprus and are in contact with local police".

Cyprus’s sandy beaches, bars and nightclubs attract around 1.3 million British tourists a year.

Ayia Napa has a reputation for being a party town, with booze cruises and pub crawls.