British teen flies back home

British teen flies back home

The British teen, who is said to be appealing her conviction in the Ayia Napa rape case, has flown back home after what she described as a “nightmare” in Cyprus.

Last week, the 19-year-old female, who accused a group of Israeli youths of gang rape in Ayia Napa last summer, was found guilty by a Cypriot judge on a public mischief charge for lying to police officers.

The defense insisted she was forced by aggressive investigators to retract her initial rape complaint, while she was also denied access to an attorney during a long interrogation. Her lawyers later managed to bail her out of jail after a month at Nicosia Central Prisons and she was not allowed to travel outside the Republic of Cyprus while trial was pending.

“It's been a nightmare for me, mum and everyone,” she told The Sun before flying back home after her sentencing at the Paralimni courthouse.

She reportedly arrived at Heathrow airport on Tuesday evening, hours after she was handed a four-month suspended sentence and put on probation for three years. She was also fined 140 euros in court fees.

“What kept me going was my family and the amazing support of my friends and all other people who got in contact to say they believed me,” she added.

In her interview, the teenager also revealed that she thought she might get a prison sentence.

"I really thought it would be a custodial sentence when I arrived at court. When the translator said four months, I thought I was going to jail,” she said.

“It was only when she said suspended that I realised I was actually finally going home. I looked at my mum and we both had tears in our eyes,” the teen added.

The family has vowed to seek justice and their lawyers are planning to file an appeal with the Supreme Court in Cyprus. If an expedited process request is refused, it could take as long as two years to set a hearing date according to local media.

Foreign media also reported on a 19-year-old Israeli male, who was the main suspect in the rape complaint. Reports said the two had a holiday fling and he admitted having sex with the British teen but denied rape. He also pointed police to other suspects after investigators asked him the names of others who were with him the night of the alleged rape.

Eleven other Israeli males in their late teens were also detained briefly but later released, after police were shown video footage and were convinced there had been no rape.

According to media the suspect, who was cleared with all other suspects by Cypriot police of any suspicion following their brief detention, said through his lawyer that he “hoped the girl learned her lesson from all this.”

“We respect the decision of the judge and accept the sentence. What is important for us is that the judge found her guilty,” the lawyer said.

Cypriot Judge Michalis Papathansiou, who had warned the defense early on that he was not examining whether a rape had taken place, convicted the British teen on a single charge of causing public mischief.

Some of the Israeli youths had also complained they were mistreated by police and did not even understand the legal process when they were being booked into jail.

Both the rape accuser and the former suspects had all complained of poor treatment by police as well as language barriers, with some Jewish media reporting that many statements had to be translated from Greek to English and then Hebrew and also vice versa.

The British teen maintains that she was raped and has vowed to clear her name. Her lawyers say they will seek justice both through the justice system in Cyprus but also at the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. [Kathimerini Cyprus]

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