British teenager in Cyprus gang rape case appeals conviction

17 January 2020, 00:01

The teenager is challenging the conviction
The teenager is challenging the conviction. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus has launched an appeal against her conviction.

The 19-year-old woman returned to the UK last week after being handed a four-month suspended jail term at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

She will continue fighting to clear her name, with lawyers submitting her grounds for appeal against the public mischief conviction to Cyprus' supreme court on Thursday.

Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, has questioned the legitimacy of the trial and how the young woman was treated.

He said: "When the trial proceedings are considered dispassionately, it is clear that the teenager did not receive a fair trial before the Famagusta District Court, and that her unfair treatment, and the treatment of her representatives and witness, was in clear contrast to the treatment the prosecution and its witness experienced.

"The conviction of the teenager not only breaches the teenager's rights under Cypriot law, but it also amounts to a breach of Cyprus's international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and as a member of the European Union."

The teenager's claim that she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in Ayia Napa on 17 July was dismissed in Cypriot courts.

She was then charged with public mischief after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.

The 19-year-old maintains that she was in fact raped.

However, she said she was forced to change her story by Cypriot police following hours of questioning, during which she was alone and received no legal representation.

The dozen young men and boys who were arrested over the incident - aged between 15 and 20 - were freed and returned home.

Her four-month jail sentence has been suspended for three years, and she has been ordered to pay €148 (£125) in legal fees.

Protesters in London showed their support for the British teenager
Protesters in London showed their support for the British teenager. Picture: PA

The young woman, from Derbyshire, was kept on the island for almost five months after claiming she was raped.

She was charged and then spent about a month in prison before being granted bail in August.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over her treatment with the Cypriot authorities, after the teenager's conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.

After the sentence, he said: "We will be following up on some of the issues in relation to the case. I spoke to the Cypriot foreign minister about that."

Protesters have previously called for a "boycott" of Cyprus outside the country's High Commission in London.