- The defendants’ lawyer claimed police did not follow the proper procedure
Cypriot police officers who have been investigating the gang-rape of a British woman have been told that they cannot submit key DNA evidence – because they failed to get permission to take the swabs.
Five men between 19 and 20 years old from the Israeli Arab town of Majd al-Krumare have been on trial at Famagusta’s District Court accused of the abduction and gang-rape of a 20-year-old British tourist at the Fedrania Gardens hotel in September 2023.
All five men deny the charges against them.
On Monday the court was forced to rule that key DNA evidence from two of the men allegedly in the hotel room was inadmissible, after officers failed to follow correct procedure to obtain it.
The defendants’ lawyer, Paris Loizou, argued that the police did not provide his clients with written consent form so they did not know that they had the right to refuse the swabs.
Similarly even though officers may have indicated this verbally, it was in English, therefore his defendants did not understand.
This decision means the outcome of the trial will hinge on the remaining witness statements, including from the victim.
The alleged victim’s lawyer, Michael Pollak, from the London-based legal aid group Justice Abroad, told the MailOnline that the Briton is willing to testify in court ‘to see justice served’.
‘The victim will be giving evidence most likely in January 2024 because she wants to prevent this from happening to anyone else. She is committed to ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice,’ he said.
The case is tragically similar to an incident in 2019 in which an 18-year-old British holidaymaker claimed she was gang-raped by twelve Israeli men between the ages of 15-22.
According to a leaked report, the alleged victim had bruises and injuries consistent with an attack and a statement from her was read out by the prosecutor which went into the horrific assault, and which is too graphic to publish.
At pre-trial hearings, the court also heard several staff had witnessed the aftermath of the alleged attack and would testify – including how they saw the victim fleeing by climbing from a window on the second floor of the three-star Fedrania Gardens hotel.
A forensic search of the room where the attack happened found traces of blood on the floor and on sheets on the bed.
The woman told police that one of the five men had forcibly taken her to his room after grabbing her hand while she was partying with friends around the pool on September 3.
She said the man tried to remove her bathing suit while she pleaded with him to let her leave.
The other suspects then entered the room and one had intercourse with her against her will and another forced her to perform oral sex, while two others held her down on the bed, she said. She said one suspect also held her against a wall and raped her.
The 20-year-old said she managed to lock herself in the bathroom and began shouting for help.
The Briton said she was able to flee the room by pushing the suspects aside and rejoined her friends, who went with her to report the incident to police, she said.
At a previous hearing held in October, the five Israeli men had entered not guilty pleas to rape, sexual assault by penetration, sexual intercourse through violence, rape by compelling sexual penetration, indecent assault against a woman, sexual harassment, and abduction.
They had appeared at the Famagusta courtroom that was packed with their relatives who showed up to plead their innocence and show support.
All five defendants had remained straight-faced during proceedings but could not contain their emotion as the hearing concluded.
The families surged to embrace the defendants before they were taken away to return to their cells, with one of the men on trial bursting into tears as he hugged his mother.
The trial continues.