An Israeli man has made the single largest donation to the legal defense of the 19-year-old British woman who faces charges in Cyprus for allegedly falsely accusing 12 Israelis of rape.
The woman’s parents set up a GoFundMe page Friday seeking $18,000 to cover their daughter’s legal fees after her attorney resigned. The woman is facing up to a year in jail for making the claim.
Aryeh Fraser, an Israeli living in Miami, Florida, donated over $9,000 to the campaign, and was among the first donors.
Many of the other 265 donors to the page had Israeli-sounding names, and some indetified themselves as Israeli.
The campaign had surpassed its goal by over 1,000 British pounds by Saturday morning.
“I’m not justifying her claims. This is a humanitarian donation,” Fraser told the Ynet news site.
“I don’t know if they’re seeing our coverage in Israel, but here they’re covering this case differently,” Fraser said. “If your daughter was in trouble and you didn’t have money, and I as a Jew and an Israeli help, that’s not taking a side. I’m not defending the boys’ behavior, and I’m not a judge.”
Fraser said he was happy to hear that the Israeli youths had been released from jail, and was now only concerned with helping the woman’s family.
“All that we’re trying to say is return the young woman home and put an end to this. To put her on trial in Cyprus won’t help anyone,” Fraser said.
An Israeli woman named Hadar from the Galilee town of Amirim and her boyfriend also donated to the campaign, Ynet reported.
“I wanted to show that not all Israelis are the same. It’s important to show that we’re actually supportive,” she said.
“As a woman, I believe a woman who says she was raped. And even if it didn’t happen, things were done there that weren’t legal, like filming her,” the woman said.
Filming a sex act without permission is illegal in Israel, but it is not a crime in Cyprus.
The fundraiser said the organization Justice Abroad has been providing legal assistance to the UK woman, and was assembling a legal team “to challenge the many breaches of her rights.”
The woman and her parents maintain that she was coerced by police into retracting the rape claim.
“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 page said.
On Wednesday, the woman’s lawyer withdrew from her case due to a “serious disagreement” with his client.
Andreas Pittadjis said his decision to resign was made after consulting with his client and her family, but wouldn’t disclose the nature of the dispute, or how the woman intended to plea.
“Please do not interpret my resignation as whether she had to plead guilty or not guilty or anything, as this will be prejudicial to her defense and unfair to her as well,” he told reporters.
The case was adjourned until August 19 to allow the British tourist to find a new lawyer. She will remain in police custody until her next court appearance.
Pittadjis’s resignation from the case comes after British media reports quoted the woman claiming she was forced by Cypriot investigators to retract the rape complaint.
Michael Polak, a British lawyer with Justice Abroad, said in a statement the suspect had been refused legal representation, despite requests and in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said the apparent confession was dictated to her and investigators made clear that if she signed it she could return to her hotel, but if she refused she would be arrested.
Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou rejected the claims as “baseless.”
The 19-year-old tourist faces “public mischief” charges that come with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros (roughly $1,900).
She originally told police that 12 Israelis had raped on her on July 17 at a hotel in the resort of Ayia Napa. She said two of them held her down by the arms as she cried to be let go while their friends then raped and beat her.
Cypriot police immediately arrested the Israelis, aged 15-18, detaining some of them for nearly two weeks until the woman reportedly recanted her claim during questioning, saying there had been consensual sexual contact with some of the suspects. The woman reportedly told investigators she filed the rape report because she felt “angry and insulted” when some of the Israelis recorded video of her having consensual sex with a number of them.
She later claimed law enforcement officers pressured her into saying she had fabricated her initial report by denying her access to an attorney and threatening to arrest her friends.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing the Israelis have threatened to sue the woman for damages on behalf of their clients.