After weeks inside, must stay in Cyprus; trial set for Oct.

British woman who recanted Cyprus rape claim against Israelis released on bail

After two days, family manages to post 5,000 euro bail to release 19-year-old, who claims her confession was coerced by Cypriot police

A police officer escorts a 19-year-old British woman, center, to Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A police officer escorts a 19-year-old British woman, center, to Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

A 19 year-old British woman facing criminal charges in Cyprus for allegedly falsely accusing 12 Israeli teenagers of raping her was released on bail on Thursday, according to local news reports.

The woman pleaded not guilty in a court hearing on Tuesday to a public mischief charge for making what prosecutors say was a false claim that she was raped by the Israeli teens at a holiday resort on the east Mediterranean island nation.

A judge at the Famagusta district court set the start of the trial for October 2 and granted the woman bail, finding it “proper and fair” to free her after she had spent nearly two months in police detention.

However, she remained in custody for two more days as her family struggled to produce the necessary bail of 5,000 euros ($5,536) in cash.

On Thursday, the InCyprus news site reported that the woman had been freed from Nicosia Prison after the bail was posted. Her release is conditioned on her staying in Cyprus for her October 2 trial.

The father also guaranteed a bond of 15,000 euros. The woman has surrendered her travel documents to police and must appear at a Nicosia police station three times weekly. She has also been placed on a no-fly list to prevent her departure.

The woman’s defense lawyers say investigators used “oppression” to make her retract the allegation that she was gang raped at an Ayia Napa hotel last month. Cypriot authorities strongly deny that the retraction was coerced, saying that she volunteered the statement in writing.

Israeli teens who were cleared of rape allegations in Cyprus reunite with family members at Ben Gurion Airport on July 28, 2019. (Flash90)

“The teenager’s case is that she has not lied about being raped and the oppression was used by the Cypriot police in order to get her to retract her rape allegations,’ said Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad, which is assisting in the woman’s legal defense. “The purported retraction is unreliable because of what happened in the police station.”

Polak said the defense team will present evidence at trial that the woman had not lied about being raped. He called the case a “test” of the Cypriot legal system’s adherence to Cypriot and European conventions and said defense lawyers would ask Cyprus Attorney General Costas Clerides to drop the case against her “after considering the facts.”

Her parents are seeking donations for their daughter’s legal defense via a GoFundMe page, which has already raised 25,310 British pounds ($30,864) of its 50,000 pound goal. Much of the money has been donated by Israelis, including an Israeli living in Florida who made the biggest single donation thus far, $9,000.

“We maintain that the statement was given under duress and in breach of her rights, resulting in the collapse of the initial investigation and charges of public mischief being made against her,” the parents said on the page.

Five of the Israelis were freed July 25 after no evidence was found linking them to the case. The remaining seven were released three days later after police said the woman retracted the rape allegations.

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