Wed, Jan 08, 2020 - Page 6 News List

British teen gets suspended term over rape claim

‘MITIGATING FACTORS’:The judge said he took the woman’s age, clean record and remorse into account as about 150 people, including Israelis, protested outside

AFP and Reuters, PARALIMNI, Cyprus

Women protest in support of a British teenager who was convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang rape outside a court in Paralimni, Cyprus, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A Cypriot court on Tuesday handed a British teenager a four-month suspended prison sentence after convicting her of falsely accusing a dozen Israeli tourists of gang rape.

The 19-year-old smiled and hugged family after the sentence was handed down following a months-long trial that her lawyers have said was littered with investigatory and legal mistakes and issues, including repeated refusals by the judge to consider whether she was raped.

The teen has said that she was coerced into withdrawing her complaint that she was raped on July 17 last year by a group of Israeli youths in Ayia Napa, a holiday resort popular with teenagers.

She fled in distress to her own hotel and was examined by an in-house doctor, who called the police.

The woman was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for three years.

Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said that he took into account the woman’s young age, clean criminal record and remorse.

“All mitigating factors were taken into account, but it does not negate the seriousness of the offense,” he said, adding that 12 individuals were briefly detained on the basis of her accusation.

Outside the courtroom a group of about 150 people demonstrated, including about 50 Israelis — mainly women, but some men — who traveled to Cyprus to offer moral support to the woman, shouting “blaming the victim is the second rape” and “Cyprus justice shame on you.”

Papathanasiou had to raise his voice to be heard over the chants.

On Monday last week, the court found the woman guilty of public mischief, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, a fine or both.

She was convicted of filing a fake report about being sexually assaulted.

Lewis Power, a British lawyer who is part of the woman’s legal team, said that she would leave Cyprus by the end of the day.

An appeal to the Cypriot Supreme Court “will begin in the next few days,” but it was not clear when any case would be heard, because the “wheels of justice move very slowly in Cyprus,” he said.

The case has highlighted “a gaping chasm in the treatment” of victims of sexual assault in Cyprus relative to other jurisdictions, Power added.

The woman has insisted that an attack took place, but that she was pressured to withdraw her complaint during overnight questioning from police and with no lawyer present.

British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab has said that he has “very serious concerns” about the treatment of the woman, who had been banned from leaving the island and whom her lawyers have said is suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Twelve Israeli youths who were detained for questioning were swiftly released after the woman recanted her accusation. They were not required to give any evidence at the woman’s trial.

Cypriot newspapers have reported that authorities were poised to give a presidential pardon.

A senior government source told reporters that was premature and would depend on the court sentencing, but that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was following the case closely.

The case has drawn a harsh spotlight on Cyprus, which is popular with British vacationers, and calls to boycott the island.

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