A young British woman who accused a group of young Israeli men of gang-rape at a party resort in Cyprus has been told by a Cypriot judge that charges of ‘public mischief’ against her will proceed to trial, after prosecutors said she lied.
It follows a series of pre-trial arguments made in court by her defence lawyers on Thursday, who challenged the admissibility of the woman’s retraction statement.
The woman, 19, who has not been named, said she was raped by a group of Israelis about the same age in Ayia Napa in July, after she had gone to a hotel room voluntarily with one of the group after meeting him in a bar.
She said the gang-rape took place after the other members of his 12-strong group burst into the room while she was with the Israeli man. The incident is believed to have been filmed from a mobile phone.
She is being supported by the British organisation Justice Abroad which highlights that she was interrogated at a Cypriot police station for eight hours without a lawyer just hours after the attack by officers who “never suspected she was telling the truth”.
Her defence team, comprising a British QC, say the officers subjected her to “quick-fire questioning and aggressive behaviour” when she was suffering post-traumatic stress and said she was “denied access to a lawyer,” which is contrary to EU and Cypriot law. The Israelis were soon released and welcomed home as “heroes”.
Her lawyers showed that one Cypriot officer “added false prejudicial information” to her initial statement regarding the amount of time she had been drinking, while another told her that “if she did not agree to retract her statement she would next see her mother when she appeared in court in handcuffs”.
In a dramatic day, the Cypriot judge also heard evidence from a specialist forensic linguist from the University of Manchester who showed how the key paragraph in the woman’s retraction statement had not been drafted by her.
Despite the arguments, the Cypriot judge disagreed that the retraction statement was made under duress whilst suffering from PTSD and ruled it admissible.
Michael Polak of Justice Abroad said the organisation was “disappointed and surprised” by the ruling. “It is difficult to understand how the judge was able to dismiss all the evidence brought before the court and find that the retraction statement had been proven to be reliable beyond reasonable doubt.”