Cyprus rape case: Court hears appeal as woman attempts to clear name over false claims conviction

·2-min read
The unnamed British woman, then 19, covers her face at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni, on 2 October 2019 (Katia Christodoulou/EPA)
The unnamed British woman, then 19, covers her face at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni, on 2 October 2019 (Katia Christodoulou/EPA)

A British woman convicted of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has filed an appeal to the island’s Supreme Court in a bid to clear her name.

The 21-year-old university student, from Derby, received a four-month suspended prison sentence in January 2020 after a Cypriot judge found her guilty of public mischief following a trial at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

Prosecutors and lawyers for the defendant, who was not in court and cannot be named for legal reasons, presented their arguments before three Supreme Court judges in the capital Nicosia on Thursday.

The woman is said to be “anxious but upbeat” ahead of a ruling on the appeal, which could come in one to six months’ time.

Then aged 19, she filed a complaint in July 2019 that she had been raped by a group of Israeli tourists in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa.

Days later the complaint was withdrawn, leading to her arrest and subsequent conviction for public mischief.

She has maintained she withdrew her complaint under duress after hours of police questioning and without a lawyer present.

Prosecutors say she was questioned in the presence of a social worker, who reported nothing untoward in the process.

Michael Polack, director of the UK-based Justice Abroad advocacy group, which is assisting the woman’s local and British defence team, said: “The case is a seminal one for the protection of human rights in Cyprus, as well as the treatment of those who report sexual offences.

Protesters hold a banner in support of the British woman outside the Supreme Court in Nicosia on Thursday (AP)
Protesters hold a banner in support of the British woman outside the Supreme Court in Nicosia on Thursday (AP)

“It is of the utmost importance for the woman involved to have her unjust conviction overturned, as a conviction such as this prevents her from applying for certain jobs, and it is a constant reminder of what she went through.”

Following the woman’s conviction, the British government said it had “numerous concerns” about the judicial process and her right to a fair trial.

Twelve Israeli youths were detained for questioning but swiftly released after the woman withdrew her accusation.

They were not required to give any evidence at the woman’s trial because the case focused on whether she had misled authorities and given a false statement, rather than the alleged rape itself.

A group of about 40 activists held banners outside the courthouse on Thursday demanding justice, including one which read: “Sister, we believed you from the start.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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