British teenager at centre of Cyprus gang-rape case spared jail, but activists remain angry

British teenager at centre of Cyprus gang-rape case spared jail, but activists remain angry
Judge Michalis Papahthansious handed the woman a fourth month sentence, suspended for three years. Protesters from Israel stood outside the court, holding placards saying they believed her account.
3 min read
07 January, 2020
The woman's lawyers have vowed to appeal the conviction [Getty]
A British woman at the heart of a Cyprus "gang rape" case avoided jail on Tuesday and recieved a four-month suspended prison sentence, but anger remains about the treatment of the teenager. 

Convicted last week of lying about about being gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists, her sentence was suspended for three years, given a €140 (£119) fine, but is now free to return home.

Sentencing, Judge Michalis Papahthansious said: "I have decided to give her a second chance."

He arrived at his ruling after considering "her clean criminal record, her youthfulness, her regret, her emotional state of mind when she gave the false deposition and the emotional circumstances".

He insisted that there had been "no rape at all" and that the testimony submitted to the court was "false".

Her lawyers have pledged to appeal the conviction - a charge of having "wilfully indulged in public mischief" at the Cyprus Supreme Court, determined to clear her name. 

In a case that has provoked international outrage, nearly a hundred Israeli women flew over in a show of solidarity with the 19-year-old woman outside Famagusta district court in Paralimni.

They were joined by Cypriot women wearing masks with sewn up mouths, holding placards saying they believed the British teenager's account. 

Read more: #BoycottCypris movement launched in support of British teen

Following the ruling, her mother shouted "she's coming home" to the crowd of gathered supporters.

"On behalf of the family, I would like to say we are very relieved at the sentence that has been passed down today."

"I would also like to say thank you for all the support we have recieved throughout the globe."

According to The Telegraph the victim shook her head as the sentence was read, looking nervous and tearful. 

The woman's British lawyer, Lewis Power QC, also spoke outside the court, telling reporters that they planned to appeal the conviction and take the case to the Supreme Court of Cyprus if necessary.

"We say, and will maintain, that this young girl was stripped both of her dignity and her basic human rights. She has been diagnosed with severe PTSD and this case has resulted in the deterioration of her mental health, Power said.

"Her identity has been compromised, she has been trolled viciously on social media and has been subjected to vile comments. Some of those who perpetrated this serious sexual assault returned to their homeland bragging triumphantly and unashamedly as to what they had done to her, compounding her trauma."

UK Prime Minister Boris John said he was "pleased" that she was able to return home, according to his spokesman.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he was "relieved that this vulnerable young lady will now be returning home", adding that the UK would be "following up on some of the issues in relation to the case". 

The teenager contacted police after claiming she had been raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists, after having consensual sex with one of them, on 17 July at the Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel in the Cypriot town of Aiya Napa.

The 12 men were arrestested in connection with the allegations, but later freed and allowed to return home, after the woman retracted her claims.

Upon arriving to Israel, the men were filmed being greeted at the airport by their families, opening champagne and singing "the Brit is a wh*re".

The 19 year-old maintained she had been coerced into changing her account by Cypriot authorities after more than seven hours of question, deprived of legal representation.

She was soon charged and made to spent a month in prison, before being granted bail in August.

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