UK ‘seriously concerned about fair trial’ in case of Briton convicted in Cyprus
The Government has said it is “seriously concerned” about whether a teenager convicted of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus had a fair trial.
The Foreign Office said the UK will raise the issue with Cypriot authorities after the 19-year-old woman was convicted of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni, on Monday.
She was found to have falsely alleged that she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.
The teenager was charged and the dozen young men, aged between 15 and 20, arrested over the incident were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
The woman, who had been due to go to university in September, claimed in court she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
She has been on bail since the end of August, after spending a month in prison, and could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced on January 7.
But her mother told ITV News: “It would be an absolute injustice if they decide to imprison her for any more days than the four-and-a-half weeks she’s already spent in prison.”
She said her daughter has had to remain on the island and is “effectively in a gilded cage” because her bail conditions prevent her from leaving and described the verdict as “absolutely astonishing”.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said he believed she had made false allegations because she felt “embarrassed” after realising she had been filmed having sex in a video found on some of the Israelis’ mobile phones.
“The defendant gave police a false rape claim, while having full knowledge that this was a lie,” he said.
“There was no rape, or violence, and police had carried out a thorough investigation making all necessary arrests.”
The teenager was mobbed by photographers and camera operators as she left court with her face covered alongside her mother.
Both were wearing white scarves around their faces depicting lips sewn together – brought by protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women, who filled the court and demonstrated outside.
Defence lawyer, Nicoletta Charalambidou, told reporters they plan to appeal against the verdict.
“The decision of the court is respected,” she said. “However, we respectfully disagree with it. We believe there have been many violations of the procedure and the rights of a fair trial of our client have been violated.
“We are planning to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court… and if justice fails in our country we are planning to take our case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
None of the Israelis gave evidence during the trial and the woman’s legal team criticised the judge’s refusal to consider evidence of the alleged rape.
Her lawyers said the video found on some of the Israelis’ mobile phones showed her having consensual sex with one of the group while others try to enter the room as she tells them to leave.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The UK is seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with the Cypriot authorities.”