Lawyers representing a British woman found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus have said they hope the conviction could be overturned within a month ahead of an appeal at the country’s Supreme Court.
The woman, aged 19 at the time of her arrest, was given a suspended four-month jail term last year by a judge who found her guilty of public mischief following a trial.
In a case closely followed by rights groups, she told authorities that she had been gang-raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in her hotel room at the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in July 2020. However, she was charged after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.
At the time, the Foreign Office said it was “seriously concerned” that she was coerced into signing the confession, after which the Israeli suspects were released.
She was imprisoned for nearly two months in a prison in the Mediterranean island’s capital of Nicosia, but was released on bail at the end of August 2020.
Now a 21-year-old university student, the woman has maintained she was pressured by officers to withdraw the rape allegation and has vowed to clear her name.
An appeal will be heard at the Supreme Court in Nicosia on Thursday afternoon, with her team of English and Cypriot lawyers set to argue that the conviction is unsafe and should be set aside. The woman is not expected to attend the hearing.
Barrister Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, said: “Decisions in the Supreme Court tend to come within six months but we hope for it to come sooner.
“The best-case scenario is they listen to all our arguments, come back soon, within a month or so, and overturn the conviction. It is very important for the young lady in terms of future prospects, jobs and associations.”
Mr Polak said that if the appeal is rejected, he will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). “With the precedent for us, we are confident in European human rights law,” he added.
The woman’s lawyers will also argue trial Judge Michalis Papathanasiou failed to consider all the elements of the offence of public mischief before finding her guilty. They will also claim that he ignored defence expert evidence and failed to consider police failures in investigating the rape allegations.
Her English barrister, Lewis Power QC, said she was “bearing up really well” ahead of the appeal. “She is getting on with her life at university,” he said.
“She is very anxious about the result but she is fairly upbeat and determined that this won’t ruin her life. We spoke to her yesterday and her mother. They are back in the UK watching from afar.”
Mr Power added: “This is the biggest case here in the last decade beyond a shadow of a doubt and the world is watching. It is so important for young women across the world. This case is a beacon.”
The 12 Israeli young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20 at the time, arrested over the incident denied any wrongdoing, were freed and returned home.
The Independent has contacted The Law Office of Cyprus for comment.