Cyprus detains 12 Israelis over alleged rape of UK teen

Group of young Israeli men were in Cyprus' party resort of Ayia Napa on holiday ahead of their compulsory service in the Israeli army.

NICOSIA - Twelve Israeli tourists were remanded in custody in Cyprus on Thursday over the alleged gang rape of a British teenager at her hotel in the popular resort of Ayia Napa.

The suspects appeared before a district court in Paralimni where the judge agreed to a police request to detain them for eight days pending investigations into possible charges of rape and conspiracy to rape.

The Israelis - who entered the court premises with their faces covered -- have not been charged.

The court hearing was conducted behind closed doors as one of the suspects is a minor aged under 18. Relatives of the suspects also attended.

The suspects were arrested on Wednesday after a 19-year-old British tourist alleged that she was raped at a hotel in the party resort where she and the Israelis were staying.

The woman told police the incident happened on Wednesday morning in her room. Medical examiners said they found bruises and scratches on the woman.

The case was widely reported in Israeli media, which said the Israeli men were in Cyprus on holiday ahead of their army service.

Out of the twelve accused, three confirmed that they had intercourse with the woman, while nine claimed no involvement at all. The suspects say the incident between the young woman and the Israelis happened “with consent,” the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.

"The Israeli consul in Nicosia, Yossi Wurmbrand, is following developments and is in contact with the detainees. Their families have been updated," Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Israeli tourists visiting the island told Israel's Channel 12 that a group of British people began beating up other Israelis once news of the alleged crime spread in the hotel. 

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.