A young British woman from Derbyshire was found guilty on Monday of lying about being gang raped by a group of Israeli men while on holiday in Cyprus, as reported by Reuters.
The Famugusta district court ruled that the the woman, who was 19 at the time, had falsely accused 12 Israeli teenagers of sexually assaulting her before being convicted on a charge of “public mischief” by the district court in the town of Paralimni.
In the ruling, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said that the defendants’ guilt had been “proved beyond reasonable doubt” and considered her story to be inconsistent.
He claimed that the defendant had lied and had attempted to mislead the court using "convenient" and "evasive" statements.
"She was never clear on what happened. She was not stating the truth and I reject the version she gave", he said.
The prosecution also say they believe that she had invented the story due to feelings of shame after it turned out that the incident had been filmed.
Despite attempts by her lawyers to get her admission of a concocted accusation thrown out, Judge Papathanasiou ruled that the interrogation did not amount to coercion and her statement remained considered as evidence.
The women's case has been been adamantly defended, however, with Marios Matsakis, who is a forensic pathologist that appeared as a defence witness, determining that her injuries were consistent with rape, according Reuters.
Her team have also raised questions about the legitimacy of her her statement, claiming that it was not written by by a native English speaker.
Michael Polak, who is also providing assistance to the the teenager as part of Justice Abroad said he ”very disappointed” by the ruling and explained that he was "not surprised" about the result, however, after physical evidence "which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped" was rejected by the judge.
Her legal team have confirmed that they will be appealing the decision on the basis that she did not receive a fair trial.
The 19-year old told police that she was raped by 12 Israeli men in her Ayia Napa hotel room in July of this year and reported the alleged incident on 17th of the same month.
After allegedly being assaulted by the men, who had previously targeted the teenager and claimed they wanted to “do orgies” with her, she then ran from the hotel partly-naked to find a way to a medical clinic where she was examined by doctors and the police alerted.
She retracted her confession in August however, which her lawyers claim she was "coerced" into after 9 hours of questioning by Cypriot police, during which she had no lawyers or family members present during the interrogation.
The 12 men (aged 15 - 22), who had previously been rounded up and arrested, were all released and permitted to return to Israel, where they popped champagne and called her a "whore" upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport.
A Case Of Women's Rights?
The case has led to increased concerns about the island's safety for women, with Network Against Violence Against Women demonstrators outside the trial protesting with gags over their mouths in support of rape victims.
The Rapist Is You! - has become a worldwide battle cry against gender violence.— Conor O'Dwyer (@Beyond_Contempt) December 23, 2019
The Network Against Violence Against Women (Δίκτυο Ενάντια στη Βία Κατά των Γυναικών) invite you to protest Mon 30th Dec 8:30am Famagusta District Court #Paralimni.
Claire Waxman, London's Victims Commissioner tweeted following the ruling that she had "grave concerns" over the case and that research on the neurological impact of rape means that victim testimony can often be inconsistent.
I have grave concerns about this case as she has been found guilty due to ‘inconsistencies’ in her accounts. My #rapereview has linked to research done on the neurobiological impact of trauma on the brain which explains why accounts can be ‘inconsistent’ https://t.co/rBI5cRR7Fg— Victims’ Commissioner for London (@LDNVictimsComm) December 30, 2019
The teenager spent Christmas in Cyprus and has been held on the island since she made the report, initially in a Nicosia prison. Following the retracting of her statement in August she was arrested and had her passport confiscated.
She is facing up to a year's jail time and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine in her sentencing hearing which has been adjourned until 7 January.