AYIA NAPA - Five of the 12 Israelis suspects in the gang rape of a 19-year-old British tourist in Cyprus were questioned by police Saturday in the capital of Nicosia, including the main suspect.
According to the five suspects' lawyer, three of them are maintaning their right to silence. Another one "has cooperated and will apparently be released in the coming days," the attorney said.
According to a report released by the Famagusta police, only three of the suspects denied during their interrogation that they were present at the scene during the assault.
The report states that the complainant and the main suspect had met a few days before, and that they had already had sexual relations. On Wednesday night, she went to his hotel room in the Ayia Napa resort where they were staying. During intercourse, the suspect became violent, and when the complainant asked him to stop, he did not, and instead continued by force.
The suspect then called in his friends, and about 12 people entered the room and watched. Some joined in the assault, and a few filmed it on their phones.
The complainant managed to escape the room, still naked, and run away. Though some of the suspects followed her, she was able to find two of her friends and explain what she had endured. They took her to a private clinic within the hotel and called the authorities.
"She was in tears and just so distressed," a friend of the woman told the British Daily Mail website. "She told me straight away that she had agreed to have sex with one of the Israeli men and then the others all ran into the room." She notes that the woman was "covered with bruises."
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The suspects, all Israeli nationals aged 16 to 19, were arrested on Thursday afternoon, and their cellphones were taken as evidence. Saliva samples were taken from the suspects and sent for analysis, to be compared to DNA samples found at the scene and during the complainant's medical examination.
During his initial interrogation, the main suspect denied all connections to the complainant, but later went on to admit that they had had sexual relations twice before the incident. According to his version of events, he and another friend had consensual sex with the complainant that night, and no one else was in the room.
He changed his story again later on, saying that a few friends entered the room, but only watched. Police who investigated the hotel room after the incident found five used condoms and 13 torn condom rappers. A medical examiner found fresh abrasions on the woman's lower limbs.
The court decided on Thursday to extend the suspects' remand by eight days. Police have emphasized that the investigation is still in its early stages, and estimated that they will collected the testimony of 35 people, among them those of friends of the suspects, hotel employees and eyewitnesses. The complainant will identify the suspects, and CCTV footage will be inspected.
All but one of the suspects are from three different groups of tourists, one from Jerusalem, one from Afula and one from Haifa's Krayot suburbs. In addition to the investigation in Nicosia, police will continue questioning the remaining suspects in other cities in Cyprus. Three are being held in Limassol, two in Larnaca and two in Ayia Napa, where the alleged assault took place. The suspects are represented by several groups of attorneys, who have been replaced a few times.