British Tourist Appeals Conviction for Fabricating Gang Rape Charges Against Israelis

Woman was convicted of public mischief after Cyprus authorities claimed she had made up allegations of gang rape against twelve Israelis in July

A 19 year-old British woman, center, that was found guilty of making up claims she was raped by up to 12 Israelis arrives at Famagusta District Court for sentencing, January 7, 2020.
Petros Karadjias/AP

A British woman appealed Friday the ruling of a Cyprus court that convicted her of lying about being gang raped by 12 Israelis.

In a case closely followed by rights groups, a district court in the town of Paralimni ruled the woman, aged 19 at the time, had lied about being sexually abused by 12 Israeli teenagers.

The woman was arrested and charged after police said she withdrew an accusation that the Israeli teenagers raped her in a hotel room at the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in mid-July. She was found guilty of public mischief for allegedly making up allegations and given a four month suspended sentence. She was allowed to return to England.

The court ruled that the testimony of key prosecution witnesses were reliable, while there were many discrepancies in the statements given by the woman.

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.

Justice Abroad, the organization providing legal assistance to the now 20-year-old's family, said in a statement that the grounds to filing the appeal are the fact that "The retraction statement should not have been admitted in the trial proceedings given that it was obtained after the defendant has been detained in the police station for almost seven hours, without a lawyer, and without a translator."  

The statement added that the women's admission her allegations against the Israelis were false "should have been excluded because of the post traumatic disorder syndrome she suffered from."

Furthermore, the statement said, the Cypriot judge presiding over the trial, "didn't provide the defendant with a fair hearing, while continuously shouting ‘this is not a rape trial, I don’t want to hear evidence about rape,’" and prevented the woman's lawyers from examining evidence that backed her claims she had been raped.

Among the evidence neglected by the judge were the "DNA evidence of three of the Israeli youths on a condom which was also found with blood on it," as well as testimony given by two British youths and the doctor at the at Ayia Napa resort about the medical condition of the woman," which support her claims of rape, according to the statement.  

Moreover, Justice Abroad said that the "Court failed to properly explain why it found all prosecution witnesses to be credible but immediately discounted the evidence of all of the defense witnesses," and thus eliminated any chance of  a fair trial.  

Justice Abroad’s attorney Michael Polak, who represents the British woman, released a statement saying that "Strong grounds of appeal have been submitted to the Supreme Court of Cyprus today and we hope that proceedings will be expedited so that the teenager does not have this conviction hanging over her for a long time. It is in everybody’s interests for the Supreme Court to deal with this quickly and fairly."