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Eleven suspects charged in Israeli gang-rape case

1 min 29Approximate reading time

Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges against three adults and eight minors in the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl last month in the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

A justice ministry statement said the suspects were variously accused of aggravated rape, aiding and abetting aggravated rape, indecent acts, failure to prevent a crime and other offences.

It said that Issi Rafailov, 28, and Ilizir Meirov, 27, were charged with aggravated rape, along with 17-year-old twin brothers who were not identified due to their age.

Osher Shlomo, 19, and six other minors were charged with being accomplices to the rapes and performing indecent acts.

"Some were present during the commission of acts of rape and aided it by the fact of their presence, as they laughed and watched what was going on, thereby enabling and facilitating the committing of acts of rape," the chilling statement said.

"Others watched a minor lying naked on the bed for the purpose of stimulation and sexual gratification or humiliation, without doing anything to stop the acts of rape taking place in the room."

The case has sparked widespread outrage in Israel and triggered a campaign echoing the global #MeToo movement.

Reports emerging on August 20 that the alleged perpetrators had queued outside the minor's hotel bedroom, awaiting their turn to take advantage of her inebriated state, prompted protests in several Israeli cities the same day.

The girl had reported the alleged crime to police in Eilat earlier but the case at first went largely unnoticed.

In late August, thousands of Israelis staged a symbolic hour-long work stoppage to protest "the growing violence against women and girls in Israel, and lack of sufficient punishment," organisers said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had condemned the "shocking" incident.

"It's not only a crime against a young girl, it's a crime against humanity itself that deserves condemnation from all of us," he said after reports of the alleged rape emerged.

The justice ministry said on Wednesday there was yet to be a decision on whether to press charges against additional suspects.

Last year, a 19-year-old British woman claimed she had been gang-raped by 12 Israeli males, aged 15 to 18, at a hotel in Cyprus.

She was later found guilty of lying about being gang-raped and given a four-month suspended sentence.

Women's rights groups condemned the Cypriot court judgement, and the woman's lawyer said she was appealing against the conviction.

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