Cyprus defends courts after British teen convicted over rape claim

Cyprus defends courts after British teen convicted over rape claim
Cyprus defends courts after British teen convicted over rape claim

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A British woman, accused of lying about being gang raped, covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus, December 30, 2019. — Reuters pic

NICOSIA, Dec 31 — Cyprus defended its judiciary today, after Britain expressed concern over a Cypriot court finding a British teenager guilty of falsely claiming she was gang-raped.

The Cyprus “government has full confidence in the judiciary and the courts... which should be strictly left to enforce the laws,” government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said in a statement.

His remarks came after the British Foreign Office said it was “seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees” of a British woman convicted of “public mischief” in a Cyprus court yesterday.

The 19-year-old said she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists at a hotel in Ayia Napa in July. She later withdrew her complaint but said she had been pressured by Cyprus police.

The accused Israelis, aged 15 to 18, were released without charge after the woman was arrested on suspicion of “making a false statement about an imaginary crime”.

The judge discredited her testimony at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in southeast Cyprus on Monday. 

“Statements you have given were false,” he told the woman in remarks translated by an interpreter.

Defence lawyers for the woman cited “many violations” in the right to a fair trial and vowed to appeal at the Supreme Court.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said the case was “deeply distressing” and that it would raise the case with Cypriot authorities.

British legal aid group Justice Abroad, which is supporting the woman, said the defence would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

The woman faces up to a year in prison and a fine of about 1,700 euros. Sentencing was adjourned until January 7.

The Cyprus government would “not intervene in cases heard by the competent courts,” said Koushos, adding that authorities would not comment further on a pending case.

The case has caused controversy in Cyprus and abroad, with some Twitter users calling for a boycott of the popular holiday destination.

Two of the Mediterranean island’s former top prosecutors and an ex-justice minister have called on Attorney General Costas Clerides to drop charges against the teenager.

Alecos Markides, a former attorney general, said prosecuting the teenager was not in the public interest and was damaging the image of Cyprus, a European Union member state.

“This rigidness of the court has provoked an international reaction,” he told local radio.

Clerides said in a statement it remained a matter for the courts to decide and any intervention would constitute judicial “interference”. — AFP

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