Israelis rally outside Cypriot court in solidarity with British woman

The 19-year-old British woman accused of lying about being gang-raped by a group of Israelis was sentenced to four months of suspended jail-term.

Israelis rally outside Cypriot court in solidarity with British woman on January 7, 2020. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Israelis rally outside Cypriot court in solidarity with British woman on January 7, 2020.
About 60 Israelis rallied outside a Cypriot court as a 19-year-old British woman, accused of lying about being gang raped by a group of Israelis, was sentenced to four months of suspended jail term on Tuesday.
“This is a terrible story. A young woman goes on vacation, is sexually assaulted, reports the event, the police make her retract and then she becomes the one guilty of public mischief,” Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel told The Jerusalem Post.
She added that the case was unprecedented.
“Another issue is that the Israeli men did not face any consequence. Part of the reason we came here was to show the country that what happened is serious and immoral,” Sulitzeanu further said.
The protesters, both women and men, carried banners reading “You are not alone,” “We believe you,” and “Stop blaming the victim” in English and Hebrew.
The case has been at the center of international controversy.
In July, the people involved were on vacation on the island in Ayia Napa, a holiday resort popular with teenagers. The 19-year-old reported to the police that after willingly deciding to go to a hotel room with one of the Israelis to have sex with him, another 11 followed them and raped her. The group – whose members aged 15 to 22 – was detained. Three Israelis admitted to having sexual intercourse with the girl but they said it was done with her consent. The other nine denied having any physical contact with her.
Five of the suspects were released and allowed to return home after the police received results of DNA tests and watched footage of the event. The other seven suspects were kept in custody for another week.
The woman later confessed she had lied about being raped in revenge for being filmed. But she subsequently claimed the police forced her to sign a confession written by them without giving her access to a lawyer.
After the confession, the she spent over a month in prison and her passport was confiscated by Cypriot authorities.
On December 30 the court found her guilty of public mischief, a charge which 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.
Her lawyer claimed she did not receive a fair trial, and UK authorities, including Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, expressed concern over the decision.
In delivering the sentence on Tuesday, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said 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, noting that 12 individuals were briefly detained on the basis of her accusation.
Cypriot newspapers have reported authorities were poised to give a presidential pardon. A senior government source told Reuters that was premature and would depend on the court sentencing, but that President Nicos Anastasiades was following the case closely.
“We will be seeking an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and we will also be considering going to the European Court of Human Rights,” the woman’s lawyer Lewis Power QC told BBC.
“We do not feel we have had justice in terms of how the trial progressed, the manner in which it was conducted, the initial police investigation and the fact that we feel she did not receive a fair trial,” he further said, adding she was planning to fly home on Tuesday.