Angry protesters claim British woman has been ‘raped by legal system’ after she is found guilty of lying over Cyprus gang-rape claim
Angry protesters declared a British woman had been “raped by the legal system” after she was found guilty of lying about being gang raped.
The 19-year-old was convicted of a single count of public mischief at a court in Paralimni, Cyprus, on Monday.
She had claimed she was attacked by 12 Israeli youths in an Ayia Napa hotel earlier this year.
Her lawyers said they would be appealing the decision.
One lawyer, from Justice Abroad which is assisting the teen, said they would be willing to take the fight to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Michael Polak said the group was not surprised at the verdict “given the frequent refusal during the trial of the judge to consider evidence which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped”.
Crowds of activists from campaign group the Network Against Violence Against Women gathered outside Famagusta District Court to protest the decision.
Thousands all shared support for the woman on Twitter, with the hashtag #Ibelieveher trending on the site after the decision was announced.
Zelia Gregoriou, one of the protesters outside court, said: “This victim was never protected, from the first instance.
“From the first instance, she was raped again and again by the press, by society and the legal system.”
Another, Argentoula Ioannou, said: “I think the verdict was wrong because it was decided on the wrong basis.
“That is why the judge demanded in the process of the trial that he didn’t want to hear anything of the rape.
“So, the allegations of the girl were completely excluded from this trial.”
She added: “We are here to show solidarity for the young lady who instead of being treated as a complainant for the rape that she suffered is here accused of public mischief.
“Unfortunately, we strongly believe that the rights of this young lady have been violated.”
When they left court, the defendant and her mother wore white scarves around their faces depicting lips sewn together, brought by the protesters.
Mr Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, said: “Although the defence team is very disappointed with the decision of the court, having put a lot of effort into the lengthy trial process and after bringing expert evidence before the court, we are not surprised by the result given the frequent refusal during the trial of the judge to consider evidence which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped.
“Shutting down questioning from our Cypriot advocates and the production of evidence into the trial on a handful of occasions the judge stridently stated ‘this is not a rape case, I will not consider whether she was raped or not’.
“We have found it incredibly difficult to follow this logic given that an essential element of the offence is for there to be a ‘false statement concerning an imaginary offence’ and therefore, clearly if the teenager was raped, she cannot be guilty.
“This will form a ground of appeal before the Supreme Court of Cyprus along with a number of other failings in the trial process which resulted in the teenager not receiving a fair trial before the District Court as guaranteed by Cypriot law as well as both European Community law and European Human Rights law.”
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said in his verdict that the teenager did not tell the truth and tried to deceive the court with “convenient” and “evasive” statements.
“My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
He said the defendant told investigators she made up the claims because she felt “ashamed” after finding out some of the Israelis had filmed her having sex on their mobile phones.
He adjourned sentencing to January 7. The teen could face up to a year in prison.
Nir Yaslovitzh, a lawyer representing some of the Israelis arrested over the alleged rape, welcomed the verdict.
“I applaud the court’s decision to convict the girl,” he said.
“I hope the court will find it appropriate to aggravate the punishment imposed on the girl, who refuses to this day to take responsibility for the horrible act she’s done against the boys.”