UK ‘careful’ about ‘aggravating’ case of Briton convicted in Cyprus – Raab
Dominic Raab has said the Government is “careful” of aggravating authorities in Cyprus ahead of the sentencing of a British teenager convicted of lying about being gang-raped.
The Foreign Secretary conveyed concerns to his Cypriot counterpart over the treatment of the 19-year-old woman, who was found guilty of public mischief.
But Mr Raab, appearing on Sky’s Ridge On Sunday, warned that the case now needs to be handled “very sensitively” to prevent doing anything “counter-productive” between now and the teenager’s sentencing on Tuesday.
It comes as one of the 12 Israeli youths accused of taking part in the gang-rape has vowed to pursue the young woman through the courts for compensation.
Mr Raab told Sky: “I have conveyed our concerns about her treatment and the case to my Cypriot opposite number.
“I did that on Friday, and I also have also spoken to the young lady’s mother to see what more support we can provide to her.
“So we also need to be careful that we don’t do anything which aggravates the situation between now (and) the date of sentencing, which is on Tuesday.
“But the concerns that we have and that I have, have been squarely and firmly and categorically registered with the Cypriot authorities.”
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.
She maintains she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
The teenager could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine upon sentence after being found guilty of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni.
On what he would do if he felt there had been a miscarriage of justice, Mr Raab said Cyprus was “sensitive” about perceived political interference.
Mr Raab said on Sunday: “We don’t control the Cypriot justice system, they’re very sensitive in Cyprus about perceived political interference, but there are clear questions around the due process, the fair trial, safeguards that have applied in this case.”
He said the “first priority” is to see the teenager released, adding: “So that’s what we’re doing and we obviously need to handle this case very sensitively to make sure we don’t do anything counter-productive.”
The Foreign Office previously issued a statement saying it was “seriously concerned” about the “fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with Cypriot authorities”.
One of the men accused of taking part in the gang-rape, Yona Golub, told The Mail On Sunday that the group were “preparing to sue her”.
“We deserve compensation for what we went through. I don’t know how much I should get,” he told the newspaper.
“They need to put her in prison and only afterwards should they deal with the compensation.”
The 18-year-old claims he was in a different hotel room, but was arrested because he was on holiday with two friends who had been in the same room.