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Woman says Israelis gang-raped her after forcibly taking her from Cyprus pool party

A British woman who says she was gang-raped by Israelis in Cyprus has reportedly told police there she was taken “by force” from the pool area of a hotel during a party.

It was announced on Monday that five men aged 19 and 20 from the northern town of Majd al-Krum were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the woman’s gang rape.

According to The Guardian, the 20-year-old woman said she was taken from the pool to a hotel room, where she was assaulted.

Police sources told the newspaper that the investigation would focus on surveillance camera footage from the hotel in the Ayia Napa region.

“The CCTV footage should show whether she was taken against her will and by force to the room,” an unnamed official said.

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According to the Cypriot Phile News website, the woman said she met one of the suspects at the pool party and he began flirting with her, before she was taken to the room and raped.

A view of Nissi Beach and the sea in southeast resort of Ayia Napa, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

The woman has undergone a medical examination, and her friends will make statements to police, the outlet reported.

The suspects appeared on Monday before Paralimni district court on the southeast coast of the island, where they were ordered held in custody for eight days on suspicion of rape, police said.

Police said the suspects will be held to facilitate their investigation.

The state-funded Cyprus News Agency said the arrests came after police secured witness testimony to support the woman’s allegation.

At least two of the suspects said they had never met the woman, and all of them denied the accusations, The Guardian reported.

The Ynet news site said in an unsourced report that it was believed that only two of the men were suspected of rape, but that the group was detained while investigations were ongoing over concerns suspects could try to leave Cyprus.

The suspected rape echoed a case that made international headlines in 2019, in which an unnamed woman alleged that she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists, aged 15 to 22, in a hotel room in the seaside holiday resort of Ayia Napa. She was 18 at the time.

The Israeli teenagers and young men denied any wrongdoing and were eventually released from custody and allowed to return home. When they arrived back in Israel after their release without charge, they received a hero’s welcome. The Israelis have not denied that they had sexual relations with the woman, but claim it was consensual.

Israeli teens who were cleared of rape allegations in Cyprus reunite with family members at Ben Gurion Airport on July 28, 2019. (Flash90)

Several months later the young woman was convicted of lying about the incident, but defense lawyers successfully overturned her conviction in the Cypriot Supreme Court in January 2022, arguing there had been a miscarriage of justice when a district court found her guilty of public mischief and handed her a suspended four-month jail term.

Later that year the woman announced she planned to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights after Cypriot authorities ruled out a new investigation of her claim.

Read more: The long arc: 3 years on, the Cyprus gang rape case begins to bend the other way

Cyprus is a popular destination for Israeli tourists. Official figures for July show they were the second largest group of visitors, accounting for 10.2 percent, or more than 46,400 arrivals, second only to the United Kingdom, which made up 34.8 percent of arrivals.

AFP contributed to this report.