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£80k crowdfunded for Cyprus rape claim Brit as mum calls for boycott
1 January 2020, 09:52
The mother of a British teenager convicted by a court in Cyprus of lying about being raped has backed calls for a tourism boycott of the country.
The 19-year-old, 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.
But the Government of Cyprus has said it has "full confidence in the justice system and the courts."
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.
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.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the case was "deeply distressing" and it will raise the issue with Cypriot authorities.
The woman said her daughter is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hallucinations, and is sleeping for up to 20 hours a day because of a condition called hypersomnia.
"She needs to get back to the UK to get that treated - that's my absolute primary focus. She can't be treated here because hearing foreign men speaking loudly will trigger an episode...
"It needs resolving otherwise she's going to carry on having this for the rest of her life," the woman said.
She said her daughter had planned to go to university this year after being accepted for the courses she applied for and being offered a bursary at one institute.
"So, no question, she would have gone to university, but it was in a career that she wouldn't be able to do with this 'public mischief' verdict, so - again, life-changing for her - she needs to totally rethink her options."
A crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for her daughter has passed £80,000.
The "help teen victim get justice in Cyprus" GoFundMe was set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to raise cash for the 19-year-old's legal representation.
The crowdfunding page says they are "seeking funds to pay for the required legal representation in Cyprus. The organisation Justice Abroad has already been providing assistance within the UK."
The teenager claimed in court she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
Her lawyers said they will appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court of Cyprus and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
The teenager said that she was "dedicated to seeking true justice", while her mother described the verdict as "absolutely astonishing" and said her daughter was "effectively in a gilded cage" as she awaits sentencing on the island.