Lawyers for a British tourist found guilty in Cyprus of lying about an alleged gang-rape by a group of Israelis have appealed her conviction, following her release and return home last week.
The 19-year-old’s attorneys filed the appeal to the country’s supreme court on Thursday, asserting that she had not been given a fair trial by the local court.
Attorney Michael Polak said “her unfair treatment, and the treatment of her representatives and witness, was in clear contrast to the treatment the prosecution and its witness experienced,” according to the Guardian newspaper.
“The conviction of the teenager not only breaches the teenager’s rights under Cypriot law, but it also amounts to a breach of Cyprus’s international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and as a member of the European Union.”
The woman was convicted by a Cypriot court on December 30 of lying about being gang-raped by 12 young Israeli men at a hotel in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in July. She was found guilty of “public mischief” and was told she could face up to a year in jail along with a fine.
Last week 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 say she was raped in the seaside resort of Ayia Napa by the Israeli teenagers in their hotel room on July 17. They say she then fled in distress to her own hotel and was examined by an in-house doctor, who called the police.
A group of Israeli teenagers were arrested and appeared in court, but 10 days after making a complaint of rape the woman was interviewed again by police and signed a retraction.
The Israelis, who ranged in age from 15 to 18, were allowed to return to Israel and not called as witnesses.
Famagusta District Court Judge Michalis Papathanasiou ruled the woman had not told the truth and had tried to deceive the court with “evasive” statements in her testimony.
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.
Later, the woman claimed police had pressured her into withdrawing her complaint and a linguistics expert witness who testified at the trial said the grammar of her retraction did not appear to be that of a native English-speaker and was likely dictated to her.
The case received intense media attention in both Israel and the UK, with women’s rights activists, including many Israelis, protesting the tourist’s treatment by Cypriot authorities. In Britain, activists on social media called to boycott the island nation over authorities’ conduct in the case.