(AFP) — Seven Israeli tourists held in Cyprus are to be released after a British teenager who accused them of gang rape was arrested on suspicion of making a false allegation, a police source said Sunday.
“All I can say for now is that the seven Israelis will be released from custody within the day… and that the British woman was arrested early today,” the source told AFP.
“She is facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offence.”
Initially, the 19-year-old woman had alleged that 12 Israelis gang-raped her at the hotel where she was staying in the popular Ayia Napa resort on July 17th.
The young Israeli tourists were remanded in custody the next day but hours before their second appearance before court five of them were released and sent home late on Thursday.
The remaining seven had their remand order renewed for another six days on Friday. None had been charged, and both hearings took place behind closed doors because some of the suspects were minors.
Cyprus-based Israeli lawyer Yaniv Habari, who represents one of the suspects still in custody, said: “The complainant apparently changed her version, and based on that the investigator decided to release the seven.”
Ayia Napa is a magnet for younger tourists attracted by its party reputation and 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.