Cyprus judge: UK teen not coerced to recant Israeli rape claim, trial to proceed
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Cyprus judge: UK teen not coerced to recant Israeli rape claim, trial to proceed

Judge reportedly declares 19-year-old British woman an ‘unreliable witness’ after she said local police made her retract allegation that group of Israelis gang-raped her

This picture taken on November 28, 2019, shows a British teenager (R), accused of falsely claiming she was gang raped by Israeli tourists, covering her face as she arrives for her trial at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)
This picture taken on November 28, 2019, shows a British teenager (R), accused of falsely claiming she was gang raped by Israeli tourists, covering her face as she arrives for her trial at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)

A 19-year-old British woman will go on trial in Cyprus for making what prosecutors say was a false accusation that a dozen Israeli teenagers raped her at a beach resort, after a court rejected her claims that police forced her to retract the allegation.

The woman has pleaded not guilty to a public mischief charge for claiming she was sexually assaulted in July at the Ayia Napa holiday resort on the east Mediterranean island.

The British woman told the Famagusta district court that police coerced her into retracting the rape claim, and her lawyers have sought to have the evidence thrown out

But the judge at Thursday’s hearing rejected her claim of a forced confession, and said police investigators conducted the interrogation properly.

Police officers escort a 19-year-old British woman, center, from the Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

According to media reports, judge Michalis Papathansidi declared the woman an “unreliable witness,” and said that throughout the investigation she had provided police with “contradictory, inconsistent, exaggerated and inflated” versions of the night of the alleged crime.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, has accused police of denying her access to a lawyer during her interrogation.

At a hearing last month, she recalled being questioned by police investigator Marios Christou, who she said told her they had video footage showing her having consensual sex with some of the Israelis.

“They said they would arrest me if I didn’t say I had lied. I was so scared, I didn’t think I would leave that station without signing that statement,” she was quoted saying.

“I was crying, I didn’t understand what was going on. They kept asking me to say there wasn’t a rape,” she said.

“They told me I did not have the right to a lawyer,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “I realized at this point that the police were completely against me.”

According to the British outlet, Christou said the accused “cried rape” because she was embarrassed over being filmed having sex.

The woman will go to trial on public mischief charges. If convicted, she could face up to a year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros ($1,850).

After receiving the original rape complaint in July, Cypriot police immediately arrested the group of Israelis, holding them for nearly two weeks until the woman recanted her claim during questioning, saying there had been consensual sexual contact with some of the suspects.

Her defense team, which claims she was pressured into changing her testimony, earlier this month presented the court with text messages sent between the Israelis which it says show the alleged rape was planned in advance.

They have said the rape allegation was not properly investigated, and have complained that there is no recording of her eight-hour interrogation that led to her signing the confession without first speaking to a lawyer.

All 12 of the Israelis were initially arrested on July 17. Five were freed July 25 after no evidence was found linking them to the case.\, and the remaining seven were released three days later after police said the woman retracted the rape allegations. They all returned to Israel and were greeted with scenes of celebration that some commentators deemed inappropriate under the circumstances.

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