A Cyprus court on Friday extended the detention of seven of the 12 Israeli teenagers initially arrested as suspects in the rape of a 19-year-old British woman.
The court ordered the suspects to remain in police custody for another six days to give investigators time to finish looking into the woman’s reported rape at a hotel in the resort town of Ayia Napa.
Defense lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh says five other suspects were released from custody on Thursday and have returned to Israel.
Lawyer Yiannis Habaris told The Associated Press that police investigators confirmed that the five released Israelis had no connection with the case. Habaris represents four suspects, two of whom were among those who were released.
Habaris said investigators connected the seven remaining suspects to the case through witness statements as well as DNA evidence which link three of the seven to the alleged victim.
The Cypriot lawyer said the suspects offered investigators certain “explanations” into their whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime.
The court heard that the alleged victim was involved in a relationship with one of the seven suspects and had sexual contact with several of the remaining six over the course of a few days, Habaris said.
Habaris said investigators may decide to take the case to trial before a criminal court if any of the seven suspects aren’t released in the coming days.
Yaslovitzh, an Israeli lawyer who represents three of the 12 Israelis, alleged the release of the five damaged the accuser’s credibility because she told police a dozen individuals sexually assaulted her.
Yaslovitzh also urged Cypriot investigators to look into the woman’s actions at the hotel where the alleged crime occurred and where she was also working.
The seven suspects again covered their faces with their shirts as they entered and exited the courthouse. They face charges of rape and conspiracy to commit rape.
Yaslovitzh had said after the initial custody hearing that all 12 Israelis had come on holidays to Cyprus in three separate groups and didn’t know each other. Some had gone on vacation prior to being inducted into the Israeli army.