Cyprus: British woman convicted of lying about gang rape claim is 'happy' after lodging Supreme Court appeal

·3-min read

A British woman, who was convicted of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus, is "happy" after lodging an appeal in the Cypriot Supreme Court.

The then 19-year-old, from Derby, was given a suspended four-month jail term in 2020 after a judge found her guilty of public mischief following a trial.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room, during a party in Ayia Napa on 17 July 2019, but was charged after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.

The now 21-year-old university student has maintained she was pressured by officers to withdraw the allegation and has vowed to clear her name having flown back to the UK after being sentenced.

Her team of English and Cypriot lawyers have took the case to the Supreme Court, which is in Cyprus's capital, Nicosia, on Thursday.

They argued the conviction is unsafe and are seeking to set it aside.

The woman is not attending the hearing, which is in front of a three-panel judge, including English-born president Persefoni Panayi.

Speaking after the hearing, her English barrister, Lewis Power QC, said: "I think it was a very fruitful hearing where the court asked very poignant questions, considered the legal arguments and identified the points which will ultimately decide this appeal.

"We cannot pre-empt the decision of the court, but we were glad to see the court had given much thought and considerable consideration to a very, very difficult case."

Another member of the legal team, Michael Polak, added: "Without wanting to pre-judge the decision of the Supreme Court, we feel we were happy with the way proceedings went today and the way the judges engaged with our arguments."

The Supreme Court judges reserved judgment on the appeal.

The woman's lawyers submitted a written document of around 150 pages, which they will expand on in oral arguments based on transcripts from the trial.

Her legal team argued the retraction, which formed the basis of the prosecution case, should never have been admitted into evidence because it was made by a vulnerable teenager who spent almost seven hours in a police station without legal representation.

The decision could take between three to six months, although the lawyers hope it could come sooner.

Before the hearing started, Mr Power said: "The young woman's story has reverberated around the world since it hit the headlines in 2019.

"It has been both shocking and distressing and has for her been deeply harrowing, humiliating and personally intrusive.

"Today though, we hope, the Supreme Court of Cyprus (will ensure) this girl can free herself from the shackles of an unjust conviction, which has tarnished her young life."

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the woman's legal team plan to take the case to the European Court of Human rights, which they say found against Cyprus after a teenager was brought into a police station in Limassol and separated from his father before confessing to murder without a lawyer.

The 12 men accused of rape in 2019 were aged between 18 and 20 at the time and were arrested.

They denied any wrongdoing and were freed, before returning home.

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