Cyprus Court Rules British Woman Lied About Being Gang Raped by Israelis

Tourist said she recanted accusation in high-profile case under pressure from police

Noa Shpigel
A 19-year old British woman covers her face as she leaves from the Famagusta court after her trial, in Paralimni, Cyprus December 30, 2019.
A 19-year old British woman covers her face as she leaves from the Famagusta court after her trial, in Paralimni, Cyprus December 30, 2019.Credit: Philippos Christou,AP
Noa Shpigel

A Cyprus court on Monday found a British woman guilty of lying about being gang raped by Israeli youths six months ago.

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 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 had faced charges of public mischief.

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

"My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt," the presiding judge said in his verdict, describing her claims as inconsistent and adding that she had attempted to mislead the court.

The Israelis, who denied any accusation of rape, were released 10 days after their arrest without charge and on the day the woman gave her retracting statement.

The individuals she had accused of assaulting her were not summoned to court because prosecutors considered it a case of public mischief and not rape.

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.

In testimony in open court the defendant said she was in a hotel room with one of the Israeli youths with whom she had a relationship before others appeared and she was pinned down.

One defense witness, Marios Matsakis, a forensic pathologist who formerly worked for the state, said the woman's injuries were consistent with rape.

Prosecutors say she fabricated the allegation, angry at being filmed during sex.

The woman's lawyer, Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak, said that 'Although the defense team is very disappointed with the decision of the court having put a lot of effort into the lengthy trial process and after bringing expert evidence before the Court, we are not surprised by the result given the frequent refusal during the trial of the judge to consider evidence which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped."

Polak said the judge rejected questioning from "our Cypriot advocates, stating ‘this is not a rape case, I will not consider whether she was raped or not.'"

Polak added that "This will form a ground of appeal before the Supreme Court of Cyprus along with a number of other failings in the trial process which resulted in the teenager not receiving a fair trial."

In November, a court in Cyprus rejected the claims of the woman that she had been forced by the police to sign a statement saying she had made up the story of an alleged gang rape by the Israelis.

The court in Famagusta ruled that her confession was admissible as evidence. In October, the woman testified about the events at night in the police station, saying she was forced to renounce her story about the alleged rape and that she was put under great pressure to sign the statements.

The judge said police detectives had acted properly when they took the woman’s statement, and she was accompanied by a welfare officer during her time in the police station – and no pressure had been put on her to change her story, reported the British Daily Mail.

In addition, the judge said she had not been mistreated, she was allowed bathroom breaks and received water to drink – as opposed to what she had claimed. The judge said she was not treated aggressively and was not promised anything; she made the statements of her own will. “I don’t find anything suspicious,’ said the judge, reported the Daily Mail.

British tourists taken into police custody, Cyprus, July 2019.Credit: AFP

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