7 Israeli teens freed after woman recants Cyprus rape report

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Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, leave the court after a hearing in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 26, 2019. A group of young Israeli tourists appeared again before a Cyprus court after the alleged gang rape of a British teenager in a popular resort. The group of 12 Israelis has not yet been charged, police sources said, later adding that five of them were released on Thursday. / AFP / Iakovos Hatzistavrou
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An Israeli teenager is embraced by relatives after being released from Famagusta police headquarters in southeast town of Paralimni, Cyprus, Sunday, July 28, 2019. (AP)
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Israeli tourists, suspected of raping a 19-year-old British girl in Ayia Napa, leave the court premises in the eastern Cypriot resort of Paralimni on July 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

7 Israeli teens freed after woman recants Cyprus rape report

  • 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

PARALIMNI, Cyprus: 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.
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This version has been corrected to show the 12 suspects were arrested on July 17, not July 18.


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.