A British woman claimed 12 Israeli men gang-raped her during a work-vacation trip in Cyprus, but now she’s been found guilty of “public mischief.”
The 19-year-old woman was found guilty on Monday of lying about being raped in a hotel room at a tourist resort in the East Mediterranean island nation. The woman, who has not been identified, told Cypriot police that she was attacked by the group at the resort town of Ayia Napa back in July, but she retracted her statement 10 days later.
On July 28, she was arrested on charges of making false allegations and spent more than a month in prison before being granted bail in August, the Washington Post reports. She legally cannot leave the island. The men who were arrested were eventually released without charges and sent home. Reports show the men had no evidence during the trial. But now, the woman’s attorneys are accusing Cypriot police of forcing the 19-year-old to retract her original statement after seven hours of questioning without appropriate legal representation. The attorneys also said that the woman was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.
“People suffering with PTSD can make retraction statements just to get themselves out of the situation in which they find themselves,” lawyer Michael Polak told the BBC after the verdict. Polak, director of Justice Abroad, a British organization that is supporting the teen and her family, added that the conviction was “very worrying for a number of reasons.”
“We maintain that the statement was given under duress and in breach of her rights, resulting in the collapse of the initial investigation and charges of public mischief being made against her,” the victim’s family wrote on a fundraising page that has raised more than $70,000 for her defense. On Monday, Famagusta District Court Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said: “My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.” The woman faces up to a year in jail and a fine of 1,700 euros ($1,900).
Pathologist Marios Matsaki told the court during the trial that he had no doubt that “violence was exercised,” and her injuries were “consistent with the rape having taken place.” Matsaki noted in his report that the woman’s injuries included “bruises to the knees, the legs, the buttocks, broken skin near the ankle, scratches up underneath the underwear, bruising to the wrist.” Matsaki said he is concerned that the state’s pathologist’s report was missing basic details about the woman, like her height and weight, and that her clothing seemed to not have been examined.