Cypriot President to Pardon British Woman in Gang Rape Case, Reports Say

Several dozen Israeli activists arrived in Cyprus to protest court's decision to convict tourist of fabricating rape by a group of Israeli men

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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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
Noa Shpigel

A British teen convicted by a Cyprus court of lying about being gang raped by twelve Israelis is expected to receive a presidential pardon, British and Cyrpiot media reported Monday, citing government sources in Nicosia.

According to reports by The Times, Phileleftheros and other media outlets, President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to pardon the woman after the court will hand her sentence Tuesday, amid concerns voiced by British Foreign Ministry officials that the case was mishandled by local authorities.

Meawhile, British Foreign Minister Dominique Raab said that the guidelines for British travelers to Cyprus are being examined.

Sources said that the President had made the decision after taking into consideration the woman's age, as well as public outcry in Israel, Cyprus and Britain.

The woman's family has expressed in recent days that her mental health has deteriorated and they fear she will commit suicide. Her lawyer, Michael Polak, said that if she were jailed it would be worse than when she was first incarcerated last year, as she “now has the notoriety of a celebrity”.

Several dozen Israeli activists arrived in Cyprus Monday to protest the court decision the next day, carrying signs reading "Stop victim blaming" and "We believe you."

"I hope that our support will uplift the young woman and that the Israeli men who hurt her will internalize their serious and offensive actions," said Orit Sulitzeanu, Executive Director of The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. Another protest is slated for Tuesday in front of the Cypriot Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Last week, a district court in the town of Paralimni ruled the woman, aged 19 at the time, had lied about being raped. The court ruled that the testimony of key prosecution witnesses were reliable and that the woman's testimony was inconsistent.

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. The court dismissed the woman's claim that she had initially recanted her accusation under duress while being questioned by the police without a lawyer present.

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.

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