Cyprus rape case: British teenager given suspended sentence

By Helena Smith in Paralimni

A British teenager who was convicted of lying about being gang raped has been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for three years. She was also fined €140 (£119) but is free to return home.

The 19-year-old student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was ruled to have “wilfully indulged in public mischief” by claiming she was raped by a group of male Israeli tourists while on holiday in Ayia Napa last July.

The tourists, aged between 15 and 22, were allowed to fly home after she allegedly retracted the complaint.

“I have decided to give her a second chance,” the judge, Michalis Papathanasiou, told the packed courtroom, citing her age, psychological state and dependency on anti-depressants.

The woman hugged her family and legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands, after she was sentenced for public mischief.

Before the sentencing, dozens of protesters gathered outside Famagusta district court in Paralimni. They included a group of women who had travelled from Israel, who chanted “Cyprus justice, shame on you”, “stop blaming the victim” and “you are not alone”. Some held placards reading “we believe you” and “don’t be afraid”.

The teenager’s mother said: “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 received throughout the globe.”

Addressing applauding supporters, she added: “I just want to thank each and every one of you for turning up today, having belief, having faith and making sure we get justice.”

The woman’s British lawyer, Lewis Power QC, who was in court, said: “Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless.

“We will be appealing the conviction and will take this case to the supreme court of human rights.

“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.”

A close friend of the family, sitting next to the teenager’s mother in court, said: “I suppose she is relieved to be going home but she will appeal.”

The family is likely to fly back to the UK on Tuesday.

The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said he had raised concerns over her treatment with the Cypriot authorities, after the teenager’s conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.