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Teenager found guilty of lying over Cyprus gang-rape faces sentencing

The teenager claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.

The British teenager, who cannot be named, and her mother (left) outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni (Henry Vaughan/PA)
The British teenager, who cannot be named, and her mother (left) outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni (Henry Vaughan/PA)

By Henry Vaughan, PA, in Cyprus

A British teenager faces sentencing after she was found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus.

The 19-year-old woman, who has not been named, could be jailed for up to a year and fined 1,700 euro (£1,500) at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni on Tuesday.

Her lawyers asked Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to consider a suspended prison sentence after she was convicted of public mischief last week.

And local media reports suggest she will be pardoned by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades if the judge does impose an immediate jail term, allowing her to go home.

The teenager’s family have said they fear for her mental health if she is sent back to prison and hope she will be allowed to return to the UK to be treated for PTSD.

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The verdict has sparked protests (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Speaking to ITV News, her mother said the teenager was “terrified” of being sent to jail.

“She has been in Nicosia state prison before, she knows what it is like,” she said.

“She’s going to go in there for a conviction for this offence, and people will know what she has been saying about Cyprus.

“I can’t even begin to describe how upsetting that is.”

The teenager’s English lawyer, Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, said: “We are worried that the teenager will be given an immediate custodial sentence, which would cause permanent damage to her mental health.

“As our psychologist Dr Christine Tizzard said, she needs to have proper care in the UK immediately.

“Any further time spent in custody would cause more damage to her.”

The teenager claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.

She was charged, while the young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident, were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.

The woman spent around a month in prison before being granted bail in August.

She maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.

We are confident we will succeed on appeal if not in Cyprus then at one of the European courts Michael Polak, Justice Abroad

The case hinged on a retraction statement signed by the teenager following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over the treatment of the teenager with the Cypriot authorities after her conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.

Her lawyers are poised to launch an appeal and hope to fast-track proceedings in Cyprus’s supreme court, which could take three to four years.

Mr Polak said: “We think we have strong grounds for appeal. For example, the way the trial was conducted and the admission of the retraction statement, as well as the fact she didn’t have a lawyer when the statement was taken.

“We are confident we will succeed on appeal if not in Cyprus then at one of the European courts.”

PA

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