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UK woman says Cyprus police forced retraction of Israeli gang rape accusation

After conviction for false rape claim, UK tourist insists Israelis assaulted her; tells of the alleged attack: ‘He pinned my knee down so I couldn’t cross my legs’

A British teenager convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang rape covers her face as she arrives with her mother to the Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus on January 7, 2020. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP)
File: A British teenager, convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang-rape, covers her face as she arrives to the Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus on January 7, 2020. (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

A British tourist found guilty in Cyprus of lying about an alleged gang rape stood by her account of last year’s incident in an interview broadcast Tuesday, saying police gave her no choice other than to retract her claim.

“He gave me word for word what he wanted me to write out,” she said, referring to one of the officers. “I signed it and then I had this moment [of realization] that I shouldn’t have done that.

“There was no other way out of that police station other than sign that retraction statement,” the woman the program named as “Emily” told British broadcaster ITV. “I thought as soon as I am outside that volatile environment I can sort this out.

“When you’re in that situation, the only sensible thing to do is to conform.”

Israeli suspects cover their faces with their shirts as they arrive at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralamni, Cyprus, July 26, 2019 (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

She also gave an account of the evening when the alleged rape took place. According to the report, the Israeli teens had bragged ahead of the incident that they were planning to have an orgy with the young British woman.

“[He] kind of pushed me back onto the bed. Got his knees onto my shoulders,” she said, referring to the man she originally had a consensual relationship with. “I couldn’t breathe the whole time. It was a mess. The way they were all kind of standing in a line. I was trying to cross my legs and throw my arms around.

“He pulled my knee up and pinned it down so I couldn’t cross my legs. So all of the other boys could help themselves, I guess,” she said, saying the alleged attack lasted about 20 minutes.

“There was this moment where I remember gasping for air and I was like ‘if I don’t get out now, I’m not going to get out’,” she said. “I was running away and I was aware they were running after me.”

The program also interviewed Emily’s friends, one of whom recalled how they found her after the alleged attack and she said she had been hurt by the group.

“She was in such a traumatic state and like crying and bruises all over her body, like it was a horrible sight,” the friend said. “We finally got her in the police car and she literally just curled in a ball with her head on my lap crying her eyes out.”

A British man claimed to have seen Emily surrounded by the group of Israeli men shortly after the incident.

“One of them had his arms over her shoulders as if to pull her close and the two were almost standing either side of her so she had nowhere to move,” the man said. “She was crying.”

Former Detective Chief Superintendent David Gee, a top British police expert on rape investigations, was asked by ITV to examine the evidence, and said that from what he had seen, the case had not been investigated “as thoroughly as it should have been.”

Cyprus police responded to the report, saying they handled the investigation with “professionalism.” A lawyer for three of the Israelis said their “innocence cannot be disputed.”

A British teenager (C) accused of falsely claiming she was raped by Israeli tourists, covers her face as she arrives for her trial at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus, on December 30, 2019. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP)

However, the woman said she believed that eventually it would be clear that her version of the events was correct.

“There is no doubt in my mind that in the end I will achieve justice,” she said.

The woman was convicted by a Cypriot court on December 30 of lying about being gang raped. She was found guilty of “public mischief” and was told she could face up to a year in jail along with a fine.

The judge said the woman had admitted to investigators that she made up the claims because she was “ashamed,” after finding out that some of the Israelis had taken cellphone video of her having consensual sex. Police have reportedly claimed the content of the video contradicts the woman’s initial rape claims.

She was given a four-month suspended sentence in the case and reportedly fined €140 (approximately $150), before being allowed to return home.

Lawyers for the woman subsequently filed an appeal to the Cypriot Supreme Court against the conviction.

The case received intense media attention in both Israel and the UK, with women’s rights activists, including many Israelis, protesting the woman’s treatment by Cypriot authorities. In Britain, activists on social media called to boycott the island nation over the authorities’ conduct in the case. Over 50 Israelis flew to Cyprus to stand by the British woman during her trial.

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

The British Foreign Office has said it was “seriously concerned about the fair-trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case.”

After their release without charge, the accused Israelis received a heroes’ welcome from their friends and families when they arrived back in the country.

The Israelis have not denied that they had sexual relations with the woman, but claim it was consensual. None were called as witnesses in the case.

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