Cyprus court overturns conviction of British woman for lying about gang rape

In July of 2019, the then-19-year-old woman told police that she had been attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel in Ayia Napa.

Protestors supporting a British woman found guilty of lying in a rape case in Cyprus, take part in a march in London, Britain, January 6, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)
Protestors supporting a British woman found guilty of lying in a rape case in Cyprus, take part in a march in London, Britain, January 6, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)

Cyprus’s Supreme Court on Monday overturned the conviction of a British woman who had been sentenced to four months in jail for lying about being gang-raped by 12 Israelis in a hotel room in 2019.

In July 2019, the then-19-year-old woman filed a report with the police, saying she had been attacked by as many as 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel in Ayia Napa.
However, she signed a retraction 10 days later and was charged with public mischief for filing a false complaint. She has continued to maintain in court that she was pressured to withdraw the allegations.
In January 2020, she was found guilty and sentenced to four months in prison with a three-year delay.
Among the main grounds for the appeal was that the retraction should not have been admitted in the trial because the teenager was suffering from PTSD and did not have a lawyer or translator, the Cyprus Mail reported.
 A British woman, accused of lying about being gang raped, covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus, January 7, 2020 (credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS) A British woman, accused of lying about being gang raped, covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus, January 7, 2020 (credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)
“This is a very important day for women’s rights and in particular for victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence in Cyprus,” the woman’s lawyer, Nicoletta Charalambidou, said Monday, Sky News reported. “The acquittal by the Supreme Court of the young teenager points to the failure of the authorities to effectively investigate the rape claims she reported. This is what we will now pursue.”
The woman’s family said the Supreme Court’s decision was a great relief.
“Whilst this decision doesn’t excuse the way she was treated by the police or the judge or those in authority, it does bring with it the hope that my daughter’s suffering will at least bring positive changes in the way that victims of crime are treated,” it said.
“Of course, if justice is to be done, an authority would need to pick up on the evidence that was gathered in Cyprus and do with it what should have happened at the outset,” the family told Sky News.
Cyprus has been consistently criticized for the mishandling of sexual-harassment cases, assault and rape, with suspects walking free in the past.