A Cyprus court on Monday found a British teenager guilty of the charge of public mischief for lying about being gang-raped by a group of Israeli tourists at a hotel resort.
The 19-year-old, who has not been identified for legal reasons, accused the 12 Israelis – ages 15 to 18 — of raping her on July 17 at a hotel in Ayia Napa in a case that made headlines in the UK and Israel.
The Israelis were released without charge the same month after the woman was arrested on suspicion of “making a false statement about an imaginary crime.”
“The statements you have given were false,” Famagusta District Court Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told the woman in remarks translated by an interpreter in the town of Paralimni.
She appeared frustrated by the delay to the sentencing, which is set for Jan. 7, telling her lawyer: “He already made his decision! I thought we were asking for a fine.”
The charge carries a maximum fine of 1,700 euros – about $1,900 – and up to a year behind bars.
“We believe there have been many violations in the procedure and the rights of fair trial have been violated,” said the woman’s lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou.
Another lawyer, Ritsa Pekri, urged the court to exercise leniency in sentencing, including the possibility of suspending any jail term, saying the woman regretted her actions and only did what she did out of “immaturity,” and because she was under strong psychological pressure. Pekri said the woman is on anti-depressants.
Charalambidou said an appeal would be filed to Cyprus’ Supreme Court because the woman’s right to a fair trial had been “violated to a significant degree.”
The lawyers had claimed she was pressured into signing a retraction written by a detective – but Papathanasiou said she admitted to investigators that she had lied and apologized.
He said she made the claims up because she was “ashamed” when she found out that some of the Israelis had recorded her having consensual sex with her Israeli boyfriend on their cell phones.
The judge said her admission and subsequent apology “was the only time the defendant told the truth.”
“My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” the judge said.
Rights groups have argued that the teen suffered humiliation and been mistreated by the police and media – and called for a probe into how authorities handled the case.
About 30 people from the group Network Against Violence Against Women held a brief protest outside the court house after the verdict was announced, chanting slogans in support of the woman.
Some wore strips of cloth with stitched lips drawn on them over their mouths.
“We disagree with the judgment, that’s why we’re here in support of the young British lady,” said protester Argentoulla Ioannou.
The lawyer for some of the dozen Israelis welcomed the ruling.
Lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh called for a “harsh sentence” in order to deter “all those accusers who find it OK to make up false” accusations.
The Israelis’ defense lawyers said they would sue the woman for damages.
With Post wires
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