Monday, 6 Apr 2020

Cyprus gang-rape case teenager launches appeal against conviction

British student, 19, launches appeal against her conviction for lying that she was gang raped in Cyprus

  • Teen flew back to the UK last week after she was handed a four-month jail term
  • She vowed to continue her fight to clear her name at supreme court of Cyprus
  • Briton claimed she was raped by 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in Ayia Napa
  • She was then charged herself after signing a retraction statement 10 days later

A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has launched an appeal against her conviction.

The 19-year-old woman flew back to the UK last week after she was handed a four-month jail term, suspended for three years, at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

She has vowed to continue her fight to clear her name, and lawyers said grounds for appeal against the public mischief conviction were submitted to the supreme court of Cyprus on Thursday.

The teenager claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the town of Ayia Napa on July 17, before being charged herself after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.

She maintains she was raped, but was forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

The teenager, from Derbyshire, has been stuck on the island after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17 (she is pictured preparing to leave Cyprus) 

The 19-year-old woman from Derbyshire is swept away from court today and is expected to leave on a flight to Britain in the coming hours after receiving a suspended sentence in the controversial Cyprus rape case (left). The teenage Israeli footballer involved in the case Shimon Yusufov (together right) denied rape

The dozen young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20, arrested over the incident were freed and returned home.

Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, said: ‘When the trial proceedings are considered dispassionately, it is clear that the teenager did not receive a fair trial before the Famagusta District Court, and that her unfair treatment, and the treatment of her representatives and witness, was in clear contrast to the treatment the prosecution and its witness experienced.

‘The conviction of the teenager not only breaches the teenager’s rights under Cypriot law, but it also amounts to a breach of Cyprus’s international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and as a member of the European Union.’

The teenager was convicted last month of causing public mischief after initially alleging that she had been abused by 12 Israeli youths.

The incident took place last July at the Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in the party resort of Ayia Napa, where she was staying. 

Matters took a dramatic twist ten days later when she retracted her statement leading to police arresting her and then releasing all the Israelis, aged 15 to 22.

The 19 year old was photographed before she was due to board a British Airways flight with her mother from Larnaca airport in Cyprus and was mobbed by supporters

She was accused of lying to police and charged with the offence of causing public mischief, spending a month in a Nicosia prison before being granted bail. 

As she languished in Cyprus waiting to hear her fate, her ordeal culminated in a hearing last month at Famagusta District Court.

During her defence against the charge of public mischief, she maintained that she had been raped but only withdrew her allegation under duress from police.

She claimed that she had been grilled by officers for up to eight hours without a lawyer present.

She also alleged that they threatened to arrest her friends until she agreed to sign a retraction statement, which she eventually did in the early hours of the morning.

The woman also told the court she had had a consensual relationship with semi-pro footballer Shimon Yusufov and was in a room with him when the other 11 appeared.

She alleged that she was held down by him and raped while some of them filmed it on their mobile phones. He has denied being involved in the group attack.

During last month’s trial, a psychologist gave evidence alleging that the woman was suffering from PTSD while a linguistic expert said the retraction statement had been written by someone with English as a second language. 

Marios Matsakis, a forensic pathologist also told the court that 35 bruises and cuts on her body was an indication that she had been raped.

Relief: The Israeli men accused of rape were quickly whisked back to Israel after their release from Famagusta police headquarters in July (pictured hugging), arriving at Ben Gurion airport to chants of ‘the Brit is a whore’

However, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou dismissed the testimony from the woman and the experts supporting her case, agreeing with the prosecution’s argument that she had fabricated the whole story because she felt ‘ashamed’ after finding out some of the graphic footage taken by the Israelis had been posted on social media and porn websites.

Despite the harrowing evidence, the judge described her as an ‘unreliable witness’ and maintained that the police had acted properly in securing the retraction.

None of the youths was called to give evidence by the judge, who insisted that the case was strictly one of public mischief and not rape.

Five of Israelis were actually released after a week before the British teen retracted her allegation.

The remaining seven were released hours after she signed the statement saying she had made it all up and flew home where they were met with a hero’s welcome.

‘My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,’ said the judge in his verdict, describing her claims as inconsistent while adding that she had attempted to mislead the court.

The controversial conviction by Judge Papathansiou led to widespread public outrage not only in the UK but also in Cyprus and Israel, prompting an unprecedented intervention from the Foreign Office that the teenager had not received a ‘fair trial.’ It also described her case as ‘deeply depressing.’ 

The girl’s mother held her arms aloft to the throng outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni after it was revealed she would be returning home

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