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Cyprus rape case: Teen begs Boris 'Please bring me home'
3 January 2020, 06:38
A 19-year-old British woman found guilty by a court in Cyprus of lying about being gang-raped has asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "Please bring me home".
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of causing public mischief, prompting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to say they were “seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees” in the case.
She has now appealed to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to intervene and help end her "waking nightmare."
The Government of Cyprus has said it has "full confidence in the justice system and the courts."
The teenager said she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.
But she was charged and the dozen young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident, were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
The woman, who had been due to go to university in September, claimed in court she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
"Every second of this ordeal has been a waking nightmare," the woman said.
"I'm 19 and all I want to do is clear my name and come home to my family," she added in quotes reported by The Sun.
"I would say to both the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, both of whom are fathers, please support me with your actions, not just with your words."
A number of prominent legal figures in Cyprus have also written to attorney general Costas Clerides urging him to intervene in the case.
The group includes former justice minister Kypros Chrysostomides, who told the BBC the woman involved had "already suffered a lot" and he expected her sentence would be "very lenient".
"She has already been in detention for four-and-a-half weeks and she has been prevented from travelling for about five months already," he said.
Meanwhile, the mother of the teenager has backed calls for a tourism boycott of the country.
A #BoycottCyprus hashtag started on Twitter in response to the verdict form the courts on Monday.
The mother of the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the BBC she supported the campaign and that she believes the resort town of Ayia Napa is unsafe.
"The place isn't safe - it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that's happened to you, you're either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what's happened to my daughter may happen," she said.
An online crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for the woman's daughter has passed £120,000, exceeding its £105,000 goal.
The "help teen victim get justice in Cyprus" GoFundMe page was set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to raise cash for the 19-year-old's legal representation.
The woman has been on bail since the end of August, after spending a month in prison, and could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced on January 7.