Family of British teenager accused of fabricating gang rape awaits verdict on Monday
The parents of a British teenager accused of making a false claim of gang rape in Cyprus have thanked their supporters for helping them through a “traumatic” year, as they awaited a verdict due on Monday.
The 19-year-old faces a prison sentence if she is found guilty of “causing public mischief” by fabricating claims she was gang raped by a group of Israeli men at a hotel in Ayia Napa.
Her lawyers vehemently deny that the ordeal was made up, and say that the teenager was forced to sign a false confession following pressure from the Cypriot and Israeli authorities.
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In a message published by the family’s lawyers after Christmas, the teenagers’ parents wrote: “We remain hopeful that she will be allowed to go home on the 30th and that justice will be served.”
The family also thanked supporters of their crowdfunded legal campaign on the GoFundMe website. “We just wanted to wish you a wonderful Christmas and thank you for supporting our daughter through the traumatic second half of 2019. Christmas is a time to be with family and a time for hope,” they said, in a statement published by John Hobbs, the family’s lawyer.
The teenager’s trial has raised questions about the Cypriot legal system’s treatment of rape victims, as well as the police investigation into her allegations.
It has also fuelled speculation that police caved in to political pressure by the Cypriot authorities to discredit the teenager as a means of protecting the reputation of the tourism industry.
Twelve Israeli men were arrested after the alleged victim came forward, but were then released without charge, as Cypriot police claimed the allegation had been withdrawn. All twelve defendants denied rape.
The teenager was subsequently charged with causing public mischief, defined in Cypriot law as knowingly providing police with “a false statement concerning an imaginary offence”.
After returning to Israel, the 12 suspects allegedly chanted “the Brit is a whore” as they arrived at Ben Gurion airport. None of the men were required to give evidence at the trial.
“The only person who has given evidence on what happened in the hotel room that evening is the teenager,” said Michael Polak, a member of the teenager’s Justice Abroad legal team.
“For her to be guilty, the judge needs to be sure that she is not telling the truth, that there is no other evidence to contradict what she said happened – but the prosecution have not brought that evidence.”