Alwaght- A court in Cyprus has found a British woman guilty of falsely accusing 12 Israeli men of gang-raping her while she was on holiday in Cyprus.
The 19-year-old has been held on the island since July, first in a prison in Nicosia then in safe houses. She was forced to surrender her passport after she withdrew an accusation that the Israeli tourists raped her in her hotel room in the resort of Ayia Napa in July.
The woman retracted the assertion less than a month after making the claim, in a poorly written confession that her lawyers have since argued she was coerced into signing by Cypriot police. The men were released and have since returned to Israeli regime.
Turning from victim to suspect overnight, the woman was arrested on charges of giving a false statement “over an imaginary offence”.
Lawyers for the woman told the court she had only withdrawn her accusations against the men under duress from police. Rights groups have argued she has not had proper legal representation.
The court, in the town of Paralimni, ruled on Monday that she was guilty of a charge of causing public mischief.
Leaving the court, the woman and her mother wore white scarves around their faces depicting lips sewn together – brought by protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women, who filled the court and demonstrated outside.
The defence lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou told reporters they planned to appeal against the verdict. “The decision of the court is respected,” she said. “However, we respectfully disagree with it.
“We believe there have been many violations of the procedure and the rights of a fair trial of our client have been violated. We are planning to appeal the decision to the supreme court, and if justice fails … we are planning to take our case to the European court of human rights.”
The woman’s family set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has raised more than £52,000. In an online post last week, they wrote: “We remain hopeful that she will be allowed to go home on 30th and that justice will be served.”
Sentencing is scheduled for 7 January.