Cyprus gang rape case teenager appeals against conviction as online crowdfunder raises £150,000

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
A British teenager found guilty of falsely claiming she was raped by Israeli tourists, covers her face as she arrives for her trial at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus, on December 30, 2019 (GETTY)

A fundraiser for a British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has reached over £150,000 as she launches an appeal against her conviction.

The woman, who has not been named, claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17, 2019.

She later withdrew her claim, but she now says she was forced to do so by police.

The 19-year-old was handed a four-month prison sentence suspended for three years at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

On Thursday, the British teenager vowed to continue the fight to clear her name, as an appeal was officially submitted at the supreme court of Cyprus.

An online fundraising campaign - launched by the woman’s father on Jan 1 to help with legal costs - has gone over its set target of £105,000.

The 19-year-old woman has launched an appeal to overturn her conviction (GETTY)

Her father wrote on 1 January: “Thank you all for your kindness, wishes of hope, and support in making this fight against injustice possible. Notwithstanding the very welcome high level interventions in our daughter’s fight for justice, we need to be resourced to run an appeal to the Cypriot Supreme Court.

“Initial calculations suggest this may cost a further £25k, plus QC and expenses, so we have raised the target commensurately. If our luck changes and we can avoid the appeal then any surplus will be applied to charities and causes with similar intentions.”

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Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, 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.”

She was arrested on suspicion of "making a false statement about an imaginary crime", according to police (GETTY)

She maintains she was raped, and that she was forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police, following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

After she was found guilty of lying about being gang raped, the teenager said: “My fight goes on. I can’t wait to get home.”

The dozen young Israeli men and boys, aged between 15 and 20, were arrested but then freed without charge before being returned home.