A British teenager has been found guilty of lying about being gang-raped by a group of 12 Israeli tourists six months ago in Cyprus. The 19-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested after police said she withdrew an accusation that the Israeli teenagers raped her in a hotel room at the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in mid-July. Her passport was retained, and she has not been allowed to leave the island.
In court, the woman insisted that she was raped but had been pressured into changing her account of what happened by Cypriot police, Reuters reported. The police denied this.
According to the BBC, the judge at the Famagusta District Court charged her of causing public mischief. She could face up to a year in jail and a £1,500 fine, but her lawyers have asked for a suspended sentence.
In his ruling, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said that the teenager did not tell the truth and tried to deceive the court with “convenient” and “evasive” statements. Her sentencing is scheduled for 7 January.
The young woman filed a complaint to Cypriot authorities in which she claimed to have attended a party with one of the suspects, later agreeing to go to his hotel room. She claimed that, once inside, 11 other teens entered the room and proceeded to rape her, holding her down and filming the assault while she screamed.
The Israelis – all aged 15 to 18 – were arrested in July on suspicion of raping the unnamed British teen in the popular tourist resort, but were released and had the charges against them dropped by the Cypriot authorities after they claimed that the filming and “everything was consensual”.
Prosecutors told the court that the defendant had fabricated the gang-rape allegations as she was angry at having been filmed while having sex. None of the youths were called to give evidence. Indeed, the Israelis were allowed to return to Tel Aviv, where they celebrated their release, shouting “the Brit is a whore” and popping champagne at Ben Gurion Airport.
Michael Polak, a lawyer from the Justice Abroad group, which is assisting the woman, criticised the handling of the case by Judge Papathanasiou, who, he said, refused to hear any evidence about whether the alleged rape took place.
The teenager’s defence lawyer, Nicoletta Charalambidou, told reporters outside the court that they plan to appeal against the verdict. “The decision of the court is respected,” she said. “However, we respectfully disagree with it. We believe that there have been many violations of the procedure and the rights of a fair trial of our client have been violated. We are planning to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court, and if justice fails […] we are planning to take our case to the European Court of Human Rights.”