A British woman has been found guilty of lying about being gang raped by a group of Israeli teenagers while on a working holiday in Ayia Napa. A court in Cyprus today found the woman, 19, from Derbyshire, lied about being sexually abused by up to 12 tourists at a hotel in the holiday resort in mid-July.
She was arrested after police said she withdrew her accusation 10 days after the alleged attack. In a case closely followed by rights groups, a district court in the town of Paralimni today delivered the ruling and the 19-year-old now faces a prison sentence after being found guilty of ‘causing public mischief’.
Lawyers for the British woman said she withdrew her accusation under duress after nine hours of police questioning with no lawyer present.
They argued that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time at which the accusation was withdrawn. Prosecutors and the court dismissed that claim.
The teenager nodded her head slightly as she was found guilty but showed no other emotion. Throughout her four-month trial, she vehemently denied that the ordeal was made up and argued she was forced to sign a false confession following pressure from the Cypriot and Israeli authorities.
The Israelis, who denied any accusation of rape, were released 10 days after their arrest without charge on the day the woman gave her retracting statement.
The individuals she had accused of assaulting her were not summoned to court because prosecutors considered it a case of public mischief and not rape. In testimony in open court the defendant said she was in a hotel room with one of the Israeli teenagers with whom she had a relationship, before others appeared and she was pinned down.
Defence witness, Marios Matsakis, a forensic pathologist who formerly worked for the state, said the woman’s injuries were consistent with rape.
Prosecutors said she fabricated the allegation and was angry at being filmed during sex.
In his verdict at Famagusta District Court, the presiding judge described the woman’s claims as ‘inconsistent’.
He added: ‘My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.’ The teenager spent more than a month in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August, but has not been allowed to leave the island.
She could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced but her lawyers have asked for a suspended sentence.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou adjourned sentencing to January 7. In a message published by the family’s lawyers just before today’s ruling, the woman’s parents wrote that they were ‘hopeful’ she would be allowed home.
The family had crowdfunded their legal campaign and wrote in a statement published on their GoFundMe page by John Hobbs, the family’s lawyer: ‘We just wanted to wish you a wonderful Christmas and thank you for supporting our daughter through the traumatic second half of 2019.
‘Christmas is a time to be with family and a time for hope.’