Teenage girl appears in court over Cyprus ‘false rape claim’

2 October 2019, 10:59

The teenage girl appeared at Famagusta district court today
The teenage girl appeared at Famagusta district court today. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

A group of Israelis were heard discussing a British teenager in a "very bad and aggressive way" on the night she says they gang raped her, a Cyprus court has heard.

The 19-year-old woman, who cannot be named, is charged with causing public mischief for allegedly making a false claim that she was attacked at an Ayia Napa hotel on July 17.

A dozen young Israeli men were arrested, but later freed when she retracted her statement.

Her defence lawyers say investigators exerted pressure, threatening her and her friends with arrest and that the retraction should not be admissible in her trial.

Cypriot authorities strongly deny that the retraction was coerced, saying that she volunteered the statement in writing.

The teenager appeared at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni on Wednesday dressed in tight, black trousers and a white sweater, with her hair tied up.

She followed proceedings with the help of an interpreter, nodding or shaking her head as she heard the evidence.

Ritsa Pekri, defending, questioned one of the investigating officers, Andreas Nikolettis, over the examination of the Israelis's mobile phones amid allegations text and social media messages between them were not looked at properly.

Her legal team say the group planned to have sex with the teenager and read a statement from an Israeli witness about the night she claims she was raped.

"They were talking about it and laughing, saying they were going to do orgies with her.

"They were saying this in a very bad and aggressive way and they looked like they were ready."

Five Israelis were freed on July 25 after no evidence was found linking them to the case, while the remaining seven were released three days later after police said the woman retracted the rape allegations.

She spent four and a half weeks in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August.

The teenager has surrendered her travel documents to police and must appear at a Nicosia police station three times weekly.

Speaking before the court hearing, Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad, which is assisting in the woman's legal defence, said: "She obviously just wants to go home.

“She was suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after the incident and we have got a psychologist for her."

The lawyer said the teenager, who must remain on the island, is being supported by her family, but has missed out on her place at university.

"She doesn't want to be here, she just wants to go back," he added.

Reporting by PA