Cypriot court overturns controversial rape conviction of British student
A British woman convicted of lying about a gang rape while on vacation in Cyprus has won her appeal to overturn the conviction in the country’s Supreme Court.
The 21-year-old university student from Derby was given a four-month suspended prison sentence in 2020 by a Cypriot judge who found her guilty of public mischief following a trial in the District Court from Famagusta to Paralimni.
She told police she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17, 2019. But she was charged after signing a recantation statement 10 days later – and has since maintained she was pressured by officers. to withdraw the rape complaint.
His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court in the capital, Nicosia, in September, arguing the conviction was unsafe and should be overturned. and insisting that his original allegations should now be investigated.
The woman’s Cypriot lawyer, Nicoletta Charalambidou, said: “This is a very important day for women’s rights and especially for victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence in Cyprus. The Supreme Court’s acquittal of the teenage girl underscores the authorities’ failure to effectively investigate the rape allegations she reported. This is what we will now pursue.
The woman’s family said in a statement: “It is a great relief to learn that the Cypriot authorities have acknowledged the flaws in their legal process.
“While this decision does not excuse the way she was treated by the police, the judge or the authorities, it brings hope that my daughter’s suffering will at least bring about positive changes in the way victims of criminal acts are dealt with.
“Of course, if justice is to be served, an authority should take the evidence that was collected in Cyprus and do with it what should have happened in the first place.”
The 12 Israeli men and boys arrested over the incident, aged between 15 and 20 at the time, have denied any wrongdoing. They were released and returned home.
The UK lawyer who co-ordinated the appeal, Michael Polak, of Justice Abroad, said: “We are pleased that our team was able to achieve this result against overwhelming odds and believe that the next step towards bringing justice rendered in this case is a full review and investigation by another police department of the rape complaint filed by our client.”
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