British teen found guilty of lying over gang rape in Cyprus can return home today
7 January 2020, 07:36 | Updated: 7 January 2020, 07:49
The 19-year-old British woman found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus can now come home.
The teenager, who has not been named, was sentenced to a four-month suspended jail term at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni on Tuesday.
When she was sentenced she hugged her family and her legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands.
Her family had raised fears she would suffer permanent damage to her mental health if she was sent to prison, having been diagnosed with PTSD.
But she is free to return home after Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told her he was giving her a "second chance".
The judge told the court on Tuesday the four-month sentence would be suspended for three years.
The teenager has been stuck on the island after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.
She was charged and spent about a month in prison before being granted bail in August.
The dozen young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20 arrested over the incident were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
She woman maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
The case hinged on a retraction statement signed by the teenager following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court ahead of sentencing, including a group of women who travelled from Israel.
They chanted "Cyprus justice, shame on you", "stop blaming the victim" and "you are not alone".
Some held placards reading "we believe you" and "don't be afraid".
The mother the teenager said her daughter was "terrified" of being sent to jail.
Her lawyers asked Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to consider a suspended prison sentence after she was convicted of public mischief last week.