Israelis cleared of rape to sue British accuser in Cyprus

A British teenager who accused seven Israelis of gang rape arrives at court with her head covered to shield her from a media barrage on the holiday island of Cyprus (AFP Photo/Iakovos Hatzistavrou)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli tourists released from custody in Cyprus after having been cleared of gang rape charges plan to sue the British woman who accused them, their lawyer said Monday.

Twelve Israeli youths were arrested on July 12 after a 19-year-old British tourist said she was raped in a hotel in the resort town of Ayia Napa, in southeast Cyprus.

Five of the accused were released last Thursday and the other seven on Sunday, as a police source said the Briton was "facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offence".

Cyprus-based Israeli lawyer Yaniv Habari said his clients would "pursue legal action against the person behind the false accusations that led to (their) being unjustly detained" for a week.

"We will claim damages for the suffering of our clients," he told AFP by telephone.

The British teenager, who has not been named, arrived for a court appearance in Paralimni near Ayia Napa on Monday, using a shirt to hide her face from a media barrage.

The hearing was postponed until Tuesday morning.

Ayia Napa is a magnet for younger tourists attracted by its reputation as an all-out party town and for its white sand beaches.

Britain is the island's biggest tourist market with around 1.3 million of its citizens travelling to Cyprus every year while nearby Israel is also becoming a key source of visitors.