NEWS
30/12/2019 08:13 GMT | Updated 30/12/2019 13:59 GMT

British Teenager Found Guilty Of Lying About Being Gang Raped By Israeli Tourists

The 19-year-old had said she was pressured into retracting her report of the rape.

A British woman has been found guilty of lying about being gang raped by a group of 12 Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa by a court Cyprus. 

The woman, 19, was accused of public mischief by falsely claiming she was attacked on July 17 before making a retraction statement 10 days later.

She spent more than a month in prison before being granted bail at the end of August, but was not allowed to leave the island.

The woman has said she recanted her accusation under duress from police during persistent questioning without a lawyer present. Prosecutors and the court dismissed that claim.

One defence witness, Marios Matsakis, a forensic pathologist who formerly worked for the state, said the woman’s injuries were consistent with rape, and also pointed to a DNA test which suggested three of the men had sexual contact with her. But prosecutors said she fabricated the allegation, angry at being filmed during sex. 

Judge Michalis Papathanasiou gave his verdict at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni early on Monday morning.

He told the court that the defendant had made the allegations “while having full knowledge that this was a lie”. 

He added: “During her testimony, the defendant did not make a good impression, she did not tell the truth, and tried to mislead the court.”

“There was no rape, or violence, and police had carried out a thorough investigation making all necessary arrests.”

 

IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU via Getty Images
The woman's legal team have said they will appeal the conviction. 

 

Papathanasiou said his decision was backed up by video evidence showing her having consensual sex.

“The reason why she initially gave false statements was because she realised that she was being recorded while she was having sexual intercourse and so she was placed in a difficult position and felt embarrassed.

“She then apologised saying she had made a mistake by filing a false statement.”

The teenager nodded her head slightly as she was found guilty but showed no other emotion.

She was a week into a working holiday before starting university when she reported the alleged attack to police, and could now face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine.

The sentencing is due to take place on January 7. 

The 12 Israelis arrested over the alleged attack returned home after they were released.

Nir Yaslovitzh, a lawyer representing some of the Israelis arrested over the alleged rape, said: “I applaud the court’s decision to convict the girl.

“I hope the court will find it appropriate to aggravate the punishment imposed on the girl, who refuses to this day to take responsibility for the horrible act she’s done against the boys.”

The teenager was mobbed by photographers and camera operators as she left court with her mother.

Both wore white scarves around their faces depicting lips sewn together – brought by protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women, who filled the court and demonstrated outside.

The teenager and her mother left the building as defence lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou told reporters that they plan to appeal against the verdict. 

IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU via Getty Images
A women's rights activist participates in a protest in support of a British teenager outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

“The decision of the court is respected,” she said. “However, we respectfully disagree with it.

“We believe there have been many violations of the procedure and the rights of a fair trial of our client have been violated.

“We are planning to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and if justice fails… we are planning to take our case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

A Cyprus police spokesman said: “We can’t say anything at this time. It is the decision of the court and she has the right to appeal.”

Michael Polak, a lawyer from the Justice Abroad group, which is assisting the teenager said the legal team were unsurprised by the result “given the frequent refusal during the trial of the judge to consider evidence which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped.

“Shutting down questioning from our Cypriot advocates and the production of evidence into the trial on a handful of occasions the judge stridently stated ‘this is not a rape case, I will not consider whether she was raped or not’.

“We have found it incredibly difficult to follow this logic given that an essential element of the offence is for there to be a ‘false statement concerning an imaginary offence’ and therefore, clearly if the teenager was raped, she cannot be guilty.”

Polak explained that they would be bringing an appeal before Cyprus’ Supreme Court on the basis that the teenager had not received a fair trial – contravening Cypriot law, European Community law, and European Human Rights law. 

The teenager’s family has set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has raised more than £52,000.

Speaking outside the court, protester Argentoula Ioannou from the Network Against Violence Against Women, said: “I think the verdict was wrong because it was decided on the wrong basis.

“That is why the judge demanded in the process of the trial that he didn’t want to hear anything of the rape.

“So, the allegations of the girl were completely excluded from this trial.”

She added: “We are here to show solidarity for the young lady who instead of being treated as a complainant for the rape that she suffered is here accused of public mischief.

“Unfortunately, we strongly believe that the rights of this young lady have been violated.”