19-year-old UK tourist arrested for falsely accusing Israeli teens of gang rape
19-year-old UK tourist arrested for falsely accusing Israeli teens of gang rapeREUTERS

A British teenager was remanded in custody in Cyprus on Tuesday after she was arrested last week on suspicion of falsely accusing 12 Israeli tourists of gang rape.

The 19-year-old was indicted the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in southeast Cyprus Tuesday, and now faces "public mischief".

If found guilty, she could potentially face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros ($1,900).

The young woman, who was not named, stood grim-faced during the court session Tuesday morning without speaking. Her mother was also present.

She covered her face with the hood of her sweatshirt as she left the court and was put into a police van.

Her lawyer, Andreas Pittadjis, said she is expected to enter a plea when she appears again on August 7. He asked the court for time to "collect videotapes and statements" gathered by the Cypriot police during the investigation.

Initially, the teenager had alleged that 12 Israelis gang raped her at the hotel where she was staying in the popular resort of Ayia Napa on July 17.

The Israeli tourists aged 15 to 18 were arrested shortly after the complaint was filed.

After five of the 12 Israeli teens were proven to have not been present at the time of the alleged rape, including some who had clear alibis placing them elsewhere during the incident, Cyprus authorities freed the five, who returned to Israel last Thursday and Friday.

Over the weekend, the accuser recanted her claims, admitting that she had filed a false report to police accusing the teens of rape.

According to an attorney for some the defendants and unnamed local police officials, the accuser told investigators that she had had consensual relations with several of the Israeli teens, but later sought to take revenge on them by accusing them and their traveling companions of rape.

One source told AFP the woman said she was “angry and insulted” that the teens had filmed their encounters with her.

An attorney for the defendants later said the accuser had offered to have relations with one of the Israeli teens, but was rejected and told to leave the hotel room. The woman then sought to take revenge by filing the police complaint.

Yaniv Habari, an Israeli lawyer working in Cyprus, said Monday night that the teens who had been falsely accused were planning to “pursue legal action against the person behind the false accusations that led to [their] being unjustly detained.”

“We will claim damages for the suffering of our clients,” Habari told AFP.