The Government of Cyprus has said it has “full confidence in the justice system and the courts” after a British teenager was found guilty of lying about being gang-raped.
The Foreign Office said the UK was “seriously concerned” about the fairness of the 19-year-old woman’s trial and would raise the “deeply distressing case” with the Cypriot authorities.
Lawyers and campaigners criticised the justice system after she was convicted of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni, on Monday.
But a Cypriot government spokesman said: “The Republic of Cyprus as an orderly state has constitutionally established institutions and separation of powers.
“In this context, the government does not intervene in cases brought before the competent courts of the Republic of Cyprus, nor does it comment on positions or allegations which are raised with respect to cases still pending before the courts.
“The government has full confidence in the justice system and the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, which should be left unfettered to implement state laws and deliver justice.”
The teenager said she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.
But she was charged and the dozen young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were 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.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said he believed the woman 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 woman 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.
Her lawyers said they will appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court of Cyprus and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
The teenager said that she was “dedicated to seeking true justice”, while her mother described the verdict as “absolutely astonishing” and said her daughter was “effectively in a gilded cage” as she awaits sentencing on the island.
Speaking to The Sun, the woman said she was not surprised by the verdict.
“We expected this almost from the very start,” she said. “One moment I was the victim, the next, I was the accused.
“Eight hours of interrogation, denied access to a lawyer – while those accused of raping me had legal representation immediately.”
Meanwhile, 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.
“I will fully support her 100% as will her lawyers so we’ll continue on with appeal and go down that route, if we end up in the European Court of Human Rights that’s great.”
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.”