PARALIMNI, Cyprus (AP) — Seven Israeli teenagers were freed from custody in Cyprus on Sunday after a British teen admitted her report of being raped by a dozen people was untrue, defense lawyers and a Cypriot official said.
Investigators concluded the 19-year-old accuser’s allegations “didn’t stand to reason,” Yiannis Habaris, a lawyer for two of the Israelis, said. The young woman was arrested and faces a public nuisance charge, he said.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press the woman voluntarily recanted during questioning just after midnight, saying there had been sexual contact with the suspects but she wasn’t raped.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the case.
The state-run Cyprus News Agency reported that the woman allegedly told investigators she filed a rape report because she was “angry and insulted” that some of the Israelis allegedly recorded video of her having consensual sex with a number of them.
The woman has a custody hearing scheduled for Monday.
Habaris and another defense lawyer, Nir Yavlovitzh, told reporters they intend to sue the young woman on behalf of those she accused, who were detained for 11 days.
“We will proceed with legal action against the individual that made the false allegations, for damages, for every day and every moment they were in prison falsely,” Habaris said.
Yavlovitzh said the seven ranged in age from 15 to 18 and the young woman “needs to think clearly about what she (did) to the boys who stayed in jail.”
The Israelis’ parents wept and where “shocked” when they learned Sunday morning that their sons would be freed from police district headquarters in the town of Paralimni, according to Yaslovitzh.
Jubilant relatives greeted them with hugs and kisses as they were released later in the day. Some of the youths carried suitcases and got into waiting cars that drove them away.
“I feel great. The truth came out and I am happy,” one of them said. He did not give his name.
Cypriot authorities arrested 12 Israeli teenagers on July 17 following the woman’s report of being raped by a dozen individuals at a hotel in the popular tourist resort of Ayia Napa where she and the Israelis were staying.
Five were released Thursday after investigators found no evidence implicating them.
Investigators told a Paralimni court during a custody hearing Friday that the British woman was in a relationship with one of the seven suspects and had sexual contact with several of the other six over several days, lawyer Habaris said earlier.
The 12 Israelis had come to Cyprus in three separate groups, some for a vacation before being inducted into the army, and didn’t know each other.
Cypriot police provided DNA samples to Israeli authorities to locate three other individuals as potential suspects, but that assistance is no longer necessary since the case collapsed, Habaris said.
This version has been corrected to show the 12 suspects were arrested on July 17, not July 18.