British woman found guilty of lying about gang rape in Cyprus resort town

National/World News

Protesters stage a demonstration outside a court house in Paralimni, Cyprus on Monday, December 30, 2019, in support of a 19 year-old British woman who was found guilty of fabricating claims that she was gang raped by 12 Israelis. Announcing his verdict, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said the defendant didn’t tell the truth and tried to deceive the court with “convenient”and “evasive” statements in court. She is due to be sentenced on Jan. 7.(AP Photo/Philippos Christou)

A British woman has been found guilty of lying to police after alleging she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli youths in Cyprus.

The 19-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty on a single charge of causing public mischief, her lawyer told CNN.

The woman had claimed she was attacked by 12 Israeli tourists on July 17 at the Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in the resort of Ayia Napa, where she was staying. But 10 days later the woman retracted her statement, and police arrested her.

Her lawyer, Michael Polak, from the advocacy group Justice Abroad, told CNN that she had been coerced into making the statement and denied legal representation. “She wasn’t allowed a lawyer, which is against European law, she didn’t have a translator, she was suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder),” he said.

Polak said the woman, who was 18 years old at the time of the alleged attack, was “interrogated at a police station for seven hours.” He added that “it’s not unusual for somebody suffering from PTSD to retract a statement if it means she might be allowed to go home.”

The Agence France-Presse news agency reported that the Israeli youths were aged between 15 and 18.

In court, the woman insisted that she was raped but had been pressured into changing her account by Cypriot police, Reuters reported.

The woman told the court that she had had a consensual relationship with one of the youths, and was in a room with him when the others appeared, Reuters said. She alleged that she was held down and raped.

However Judge Michalis Papathanasiou accepted the prosecution’s case that the woman fabricated the claims because she felt “ashamed” after finding out some of the Israelis had filmed her having sex on their mobile phones, Reuters reported.

None of the youths was called to give evidence.

Nir Yaslovitzh, a lawyer representing the young Israelis, told CNN: “I applaud the court’s decision to convict the girl.”

“I hope that the court will find it appropriate to aggravate the punishment imposed on the girl, who refuses to this day to take responsibility for the horrible act she has done against the boys.”

He added that a “civil process” would now take place “to compensate my clients for the enormous damage caused to them. ”

The woman spent more than a month in prison before being granted bail. Her passport was retained, and she has not been able to leave the country.

Sentencing has been adjourned until January 7. The conviction could result in up to a year jail time.

The case has been closely followed by rights activists, who say it has been mishandled by Cypriot officials.

On Monday, protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women gathered outside the Famagusta District Court, many wearing white scarves portraying lips sewn together.

Polak said the woman will be appealing the case to the Cyprus Supreme Court and, should this fail, to the European Court of Human Rights.

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