The British government is raising red flags over the Ayia Napa rape verdict, after a 19-year-old Briton was found guilty of lying to police about being gang raped by Israeli teens.
According to British media, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said in a written statement that London had reservations over the legal proceedings in a Paralimni courtroom on Monday.
“The UK is seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with the Cypriot authorities,” the spokesperson said.
The British teen, who was the defendant in a public mischief trial, was found to be “unreliable” by Judge Michalis Papathanasiou, who also said he found no evidence of rape.
“The defendant gave police a false rape claim, while having full knowledge that this was a lie,” the judge said while delivering the verdict.
The Cypriot judge also said the defendant tried to mislead the court, citing video evidence that showed the teen having consensual sex with one of the suspects, adding that the defendant fabricated the rape claims because she felt embarrassed that other Israeli teens were recording the act.
But her lawyers argued that the video, which was shared online and found on some of the Israeli suspects’ phones, only showed their client having consensual sex with one suspect as others where entering the hotel room and she was telling them to leave.
“It’s a very worrying conviction,” defence lawyer Michael Polak said in video statement to the BBC.
Polak, a human rights lawyer who has been assisting the teen’s defence team, said it was very worrying for a court to rely on a retraction statement signed after many hours in the police station without the presence of a lawyer.
The defense attorney also added that they presented evidence in court that the teen was suffering from post-traumatic stress during her ordeal at the station, while on a number of occasions, according to Polak, the judge refused to hear other evidence in connection with the alleged rape.
Last October, the judge had cautioned the defense saying the purpose of the trial was not to examine a counter-complaint against the police but only to focus on whether she was guilty of public mischief.
“But to be guilty of the public mischief, it has to be an imaginary offence. So it’s quite clear to everybody that one of the elements must be that she wasn’t telling the truth about the rape,” Polak went on to say.
According to the defense, the judge’s approach meant that their client did not have a fair trial because “he closed his mind to whether the rape had taken place.”
The defense team said they planned to file an appeal with the Supreme Court in Cyprus. Another human rights lawyer involved with the case, local attorney Nicoletta Charalambidou, also did not rule out taking the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if it became necessary.