A British woman who accused an Israeli group of teenagers of raping her has been found guilty of a false rape claim. On Monday, December 30, a court in Cyprus ruled that the 19-year-old British teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is convicted on a charge of causing public mischief.
The Famagusta District Court found the woman’s claim of being gang-raped by 12 Israelis in a hotel room at a Cypriot tourist resort in July this year to be fabricated due to lack of credibility in her story. The judge adjourned sentencing until January 7, 2020 and the woman could face up to a year in prison plus a $1,900 fine. Her alleged attackers were allowed to return home to Israel after being detained for 10 days.
Outcry from the UK
The UK government has expressed concern over the ruling, especially when the judge refused to hear any evidence regarding the alleged rape during the trial and was seemingly more intent on reading her body language instead. “During her testimony, the defendant did not make a good impression, she did not tell the truth, and tried to mislead the court,” said Judge Michalis Papathanasiou upon delivering the verdict.
Her lawyer, Michael Polak – who is also the director of Justice Abroad, a team of legal experts who provide assistance to British citizens with a range of international justice, diplomatic and law enforcement issues – has said that the conviction is “worrying” after calling out the judge for what he believes to be an unfair trial. “He had closed his mind to whether the rape has taken place,” Polak said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The British woman claims to have been raped by 12 Israeli teenagers in a Mediterranean resort town on the southeast coast of Cyprus known as Ayia Napa in July.
She thereafter reported the incident to police but reportedly retracted her statement after 10 days. The woman did not have a translator or legal counsel present during her seven-hour questioning at a local police station when she retracted her report, which is a breach of European human rights law.
She later told the court that she had been pressured into changing her account by the Cypriot police and was “scared for her life.” The woman spent four and a half weeks in prison in the country’s capital, Nicosia, before being granted bail.
The Briton has been forced to surrender her passport for fear that she might flee Cyprus and has been moved to numerous safe houses on the island ever since. She is said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is not coping well with the trial verdict, according to her mother.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at [email protected]