Legal fundraiser for Briton convicted in Cyprus reaches £80,000 target
A crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for a British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped has passed £80,000.
The “help teen victim get justice in Cyprus” GoFundMe page was set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to raise cash for the 19-year-old’s legal representation.
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.
The GoFundMe page has continued to receive thousands of pounds in donations after the woman was found guilty on Monday, and had hit its £80,000 target on Tuesday night.
The Foreign Office said the UK was “seriously concerned” about the fairness of the woman’s trial and it is understood officials have raised 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.
And the psychologist who assessed the woman as part of her defence case, Dr Christine Tizzard, said she was concerned the trial had not fully considered that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She told the Guardian: “The salient point is that she was diagnosed with PTSD. That’s a standalone diagnosis. It’s a valid diagnosis and it hasn’t really been fully represented.
“Aside the fact it hasn’t been fully represented, it means she’s been unable to get the treatment she so sorely needs and every day she’s not having treatment the worse it gets.”
But the government of Cyprus has said it has “full confidence in the justice system and the courts”.
Cyprus’ attorney general said on Tuesday that he could not suspend the trial because she had levelled “grave accusations” against police investigators that had to be adjudicated in court.
He said the woman’s allegation that police coerced her into retracting her rape claim “could not have been left to linger” so he could not move to suspend the trial.
In a statement, Mr Clerides added: “Any intervention on the part of the attorney general, either for reasons of public interest or any other reasons, would have constituted nothing more than an obstacle to ascertaining the true facts of the case, as well as interference in the judiciary’s work.”
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.