“We believe that there have been many violations in the procedure and the rights of fair trial of a client have been violated,” said a defense attorney.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
The British government is raising questions over whether a 19-year-old British woman found guilty in a Cyprus court of fabricating claims that she was gang-raped by 12 Israelis received a fair trial.
“The U.K. is seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with the Cypriot authorities,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said in a written statement.
The woman, who was not identified in most reports, was found guilty of the charge of “public mischief,” which carries a maximum fine of 1,700 euros ($1,900) and up to a year’s imprisonment. She will remain in Cyprus for her Jan. 7 sentencing.
The Cypriot court ruled on Monday that her account of what happened in a hotel room at a tourist resort in the east Mediterranean island nation lacked credibility.
Famagusta District Court Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said the defendant didn’t tell the truth and tried to deceive the court with “evasive” statements in her testimony.
The woman says she is innocent and will appeal the ruling.
The case had triggered widespread interest in Britain and Israel. It was reported as a shocking gang rape until Cypriot authorities cast doubt on the woman’s account.
Emerging from the court house after the verdict, both the woman and her mother wore strips of fabric over their mouths on which stitched lips were drawn.
The woman told investigators that she had been raped by as many as a dozen Israelis aged 15-20 on July 17. Cyprus police said she retracted the allegations 10 days later after investigators found what they said were inconsistencies in her statements.
The judge said the defendant admitted to investigators under questioning that she had lied and apologized. He said she made up the claims because she was “ashamed” after finding out that some of the Israelis had filmed her on their mobile phones having consensual sex with her Israeli boyfriend.
He said that the admission and her subsequent apology “was the only time the defendant told the truth.”
The court heard that a physical examination of the woman after she filed the complaint to police found no evidence of rape. The judge rejected testimony from a pathologist testifying for the defense that rape couldn’t be ruled out.
However, Nicoletta Charalambidou, a lawyer representing the defendant, reacted after Monday’s verdict, charging that “we believe that there have been many violations in the procedure and the rights of a client of fair trial have been violated.”
A campaign to boycott Cyprus swept Twitter amid the British fury, reported MailOnline.
“A #BoycottCyprus hashtag erupted on social media following the ruling and a petition to drop all charges against the teenager has soared over 1,200 signatures,” the British news outlet noted.
It cited Manchester resident Jenniffer Toon as tweeting on her account: “NEVER EVER EVER taking my daughters to Cyprus – we all see the true colours of your system now – it’s unsafe for women – shame on you… the world knows to avoid Cyprus as a place that harms and supports RAPE.”
All 12 Israelis returned home shortly after their release in late July, and their defense lawyers said that they would sue the woman for damages.