A 19-year-old British teen who was allegedly gang raped by 12 Israelis at a resort town in Cyprus has claimed she was forced to retract her accusation under pressure from local police.
Last month, 12 Israelis aged 15 to 18 were arrested on suspicion of raping a British teen in their hotel room in the popular tourist resort of Aya Napa, Cyprus. However, little over a week later all 12 teenagers were released and allowed to return to Israel after the British woman admitted to having fabricated her accusations against them.
The teen confessed that she had engaged in consensual sex with several of the Israelis but was filmed by them in the process, making her feel "angry and insulted" enough to file the rape accusation. She was subsequently arrested and could face up to a year in prison for misleading local authorities.
However, the unnamed British teen has now claimed that she was forced to retract her initial accusation against the Israelis under duress, arguing she was denied access to a lawyer and that Cypriot police threatened to arrest her friends if she did not recant her testimony.
According to an exclusive yesterday by British newspaper the Sun, the teen "says she was denied a lawyer and then pressurised to withdraw her complaint by [Cypriot] detectives, who threatened to arrest her friends for 'conspiracy' if she did not comply".
"The teenager claims officers then dictated a statement in which she admitted faking allegations," the British daily added, "and she reluctantly signed only because she was exhausted after eight hours at the police station."
The British teen's lawyer, Michael Polak, argued that "[the girl's] confession was obtained under oppression given the threats made. She was not cautioned and was not given access to a lawyer as was her right under the European Convention on Human Rights."
"It is also understood that unfortunately none of the proceedings at the Cypriot police station were recorded," Polak added.
The Sun also claims to have seen police reports of the incident, including medical examinations of two Israelis which found "suspicious scratches" and "bruises on their backs and chests, as if they had been in a struggle".
The newspaper added that the Israeli teens then "told detectives they had been attacked at the hotel by the girl's friends," but added that "the hotel's manager insisted no such fight took place".
The girl's allegations add yet another element to an incident fraught with discrepancies and conflicting narratives, which has raised questions about the Cypriot authorities' handling of the case and the early release of the Israeli teens.
Last week, seven of the accused teens returned to Israel, being greeted by fanfare and celebration at the country's Ben Gurion Airport. As Israeli daily the Times of Israel reported at the time, the "teens were jubilant when they were greeted by their cheering families" and "loudly celebrated their release by opening champagne bottles, chanting 'Am Yisrael Chai' [the people of Israel live] along with 'the Brit is a whore'."
The teens did not express any regret about the incident, with one telling Hebrew-language media: "I feel great. The truth came out and I am happy." Another teen called his release "a miracle from God" and vowed to sue the British teen for libel.
Meanwhile Israeli journalists, social media activists and onlookers criticised the boys' "hero's welcome", pointing out that had the alleged incident taken place in Israel, the teens would have faced criminal charges for filming the sex act, which was made illegal in Israel in 2014.
It is not yet clear whether there is now any recourse to re-investigate the Israelis should the British teen's accusations against the Cypriot police be proven. She currently remains in custody and is slated to appear in court on Wednesday, though could wait several months until being brought to trial.