British woman accused of making up gang-rape claims in Cyprus is declared an ‘unreliable witness’ by a judge and told she WILL face trial for ‘lying’ about the attack
- The 19-year-old will stand trial over her claim that she was raped in Ayia Napa
- Defence lawyers claimed she had been forced to retract her claim under duress
- But a judge rejected that claim today and said the statement was admissible
A British woman will face trial for allegedly making up a gang-rape allegation in Cyprus after a judge today rejected her claim that she retracted it under duress.
The 19-year-old will stand trial on a public mischief charge over her claim that she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli men in Ayia Napa.
Her lawyers claimed she had been forced to sign a retraction statement after eight hours in a police station and with no lawyers present.
But judge Michalis Papathansidi today declared her an ‘unreliable witness’ and ruled that the retraction statement is admissible as evidence.
The British 19-year-old accused of inventing a rape claim arrives at a Cypriot court with her mother today as she waits to hear whether the charge against her will be dropped
The judge told a packed courtroom in Famagusta today that detectives had acted properly in obtaining the retraction statement.
He said a welfare officer had been with the woman during her time at the police station and no pressure had been put on her to withdraw the allegation.
Police had acted within their powers at all times, allowing the woman breaks to visit the toilet, giving her water and caring for her welfare, the court found.
‘The statement was not taken under pressure or improper conditions. There was no aggression and no promise made to her. The statement was given wilfully. I don’t find anything suspicious,’ the judge ruled.
In addition, the judge dismissed evidence from two expert witnesses who had spoken in the 19-year-old’s defence.
A psychologist who said the woman was suffering from PTSD when she signed the statement was said to have slanted her evidence in favour of the accused.
And evidence from a linguistic expert who said a non-English speaker had written the statement was also dismissed by the judge.
The Briton, who hid her face as she arrived at court with her mother, sat in the dock today with interpreters translating from Greek to English.
Judge Michalis Papathansidi is due to rule on whether the Briton (right) was forced under duress to sign a statement retracting the rape claim
Some of the Israeli men who were initially accused of rape are seen arriving in court on July 25
After giving his verdict the judge said the trial should immediately proceed and refused a plea from defence lawyer Ritsa Pekri for an adjournment.
A brief argument followed, with the judge informing Pekri that the defence team should have been prepared to continue.
The case will now proceed to trial after the issue of the retraction statement was settled in a procedure known as a ‘trial within a trial’.
Over four hearings, the Briton’s legal team had attempted to show that the statement should be thrown out because it was obtained under duress.
The woman’s lawyers had claimed that the 19-year-old was pressured into signing a statement which was written by a detective.
Without the retraction there would be no further evidence and the charge would be dropped, defence lawyers hoped.
Lawyers for the 19-year-old (right) argue that the statement was obtained under duress after eight hours alone in a police station and with no lawyers present
The woman had claimed she was gang raped at a budget hotel in the Ayia Napa resort by 12 Israeli men last July.
The twelve suspects were arrested the following day when investigators took DNA samples and seized their mobile phones.
A week later, five of the men were set free with one of the Israeli men able to prove he was with his girlfriend at the time of the alleged attack.
The other seven were released when the woman signed the statement saying she had made up the allegation because she was angry that she had been filmed without her permission.
Police charged her with public mischief and she was held in jail for a month before being released on bail with the condition that she surrenders her passport an stays on the island.
The campaigning group Justice Abroad has crowdfunded over £30,000 to pay her legal costs, including the services of top QC Lewis Power.
At the last hearing the teenager was in tears after the latest adjournment and shouted out that she would only stay in Cyprus a further two weeks.