More than £20,000 has been raised in just a few hours to help a 19-year-old Briton after she was convicted of lying to police in Cyprus about an alleged gang rape.
Supporters rushed to fund the teenager’s legal appeal against Monday’s guilty verdict after she vowed to fight to clear her name.
The woman’s father said the donations and continued support ‘mean the world to our daughter’ as he urged people to ‘keep spreading the message far and wide’.
The Briton, who MailOnline is choosing not to name, is facing a year in jail on a single charge of public mischief after a judge ruled that she lied to police when she accused 12 Israeli men of gang-rape back in July.
More than £20,000 to has been donated in just a few hours to fund the legal appeal of a 19-year-old Briton who was found guilty of lying to police in Cyprus about being gang raped
A fund to support the teenager, which began in August when she was first charged, has now topped £70,000 following the guilty verdict
The woman’s father sent out a heartfelt message to supporters, saying the money ‘means the world to our daughter’ and encouraging them to keep spreading the message
The judge said she had given conflicting accounts of the attack to officers in the days after it was reported, before finally retracting the claim.
However, the girl’s legal team insist she was coerced into withdrawing the claim after being interviewed for hours by police with no lawyer present.
The woman has been stranded in Cyprus since the summer after authorities confiscated her passport. She will now be in the country until at least January 7 after the judge adjourned sentencing until that date.
Speaking after the verdict, the woman told The Sun: ‘I’m dedicated to seeking true justice.’
Her mother added: ‘This has been a nightmare. It’s so vindictive from the judge. We’ve been here since July and we’re still waiting. He could have sentenced her today and it would have been over.
‘We are very disappointed with the verdict but aren’t surprised given how it’s gone with that particular judge. He is just trying to show who’s boss.’
A GoFundMe page to support the woman was first set up in August, a month after she reported the attack and around the time she was charged, and had reached £50,000 before Monday’s verdict.
In the hours afterwards, more than £20,000 in additional funding was raised, including many donations from Israelis who are also angered by her treatment.
It came as the UK Government threatened to intervene over ‘serious concerns’ about the 19-year-old woman’s treatment during a five-month-long court case.
The mother (pictured with her daughter and the teenager’s father outside court) branded the judge ‘vindictive’ following the case
A British teenager is at the centre of a diplomatic row after being convicted of inventing a gang-rape attack in a Cyprus party resort
Officials said they would raise the case with their Cypriot counterparts, with a Foreign Office spokesman adding: ‘The UK is seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case.’
The teenager’s distraught mother said last night her daughter was living a ‘nightmare’, but had vowed to fight yesterday’s ruling all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in order to clear her name.
During a summer trip before starting university, the then 18-year-old student told Cypriot police in July that she was raped by up to 12 Israeli youths in the island’s party town of Ayia Napa, having been held down by others as she had consensual sex with one.
But she later retracted her statement, saying she did so under pressure from detectives after ten hours of questioning which was not recorded or carried out in front of a lawyer.
Rather than being allowed home, the woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – found herself in police custody and stranded on the Mediterranean island for five months, charged with ‘public mischief’.
Her lawyers say yesterday’s guilty verdict was ‘set before the trial’, claiming there were ‘many violations’ of her right to a fair trial.
The judge did not hear from any of the woman’s alleged attackers and was adamant he would not rule on whether she was raped or not, despite three men admitting they had sex with her.
As the verdict was delivered, women’s rights campaigners protested outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou, who often reduced the woman to tears, dismissed evidence put forward by UK experts that supported her claim of being attacked and ruled she ‘did not make a good impression, she did not tell the truth, and tried to mislead the court’.
The teenager’s mother said she was ‘very disappointed’ by the ‘absolutely astonishing verdict’ and said the ‘nightmare’ has left her daughter suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), afraid when she hears loud, male, foreign voices, and suffering from insomnia, and even hallucinations.
She added: ‘Really sadly, I was expecting for an EU nation that they’d have sort of a judicial process that would follow very similar to what we’d see in the UK, but that is really not what I’ve seen out here. Not at all.’
The mother said her daughter was ‘resolute to see justice’ for the ‘violation’ of her human rights. The teenager will be sentenced next Tuesday and faces up to a year in jail and a fine of £1,500.
‘It would be an absolute injustice if they decide to imprison her for any more days than the four and a half weeks she’s already spent in prison [on remand],’ her mother said.
The teenager said in court she was ‘forced’ by police to change her story, telling the judge she was ‘scared for my life’. She added: ‘I didn’t think I would leave that police station without signing that statement.’
But Judge Papathanasiou ruled the teenager lied as revenge, which she denies, for being filmed having sex without her knowledge and the subsequent embarrassment.
Protesters said the young British woman had been ‘raped again by the justice system’
The judge told the court: ‘The defendant gave police a false rape claim, while having full knowledge that this was a lie.
‘The guilt of the accused is proven. She confessed her guilt.’
As the verdict was delivered, women’s rights campaigners protested outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.
They said the young girl had been ‘raped again by the justice system’. The handling of the case by the Cypriot police and judicial system has led to widespread calls for an independent investigation amid fears the Midlands teenager is the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice.
Lawyer Mike Polak, of Justice Abroad, a campaign group assisting the young woman, said it felt like the verdict was set ‘before the trial started’, adding: ‘We will be appealing the decision to the Cypriot Supreme Court and to the European Court of Human Rights if we cannot get justice within Cyprus.
‘I don’t think that anyone who attended would say that this was a fair trial.’
Defence lawyer Nicoletta Charambidou said she felt there was enough evidence to prove the woman was raped, adding: ‘We believe there have been many violations of the procedure and the rights of a fair trial of our client.’
As she left court yesterday, the devastated student gave a thumbs-up to supporters while she and her mother wore gags over their mouths, depicting lips sewn together.
The masks had been given to them by the protesters who chanted, ‘We are with you. We know you. We believe you.’
Mr Polak added: ‘Although the defence team is very disappointed, we are not surprised by the result given the frequent refusal during the trial of the judge to consider evidence which supported the fact that the teenager had been raped.
‘Shutting down questioning from our Cypriot advocates and the production of evidence into the trial on a handful of occasions, the judge stridently stated ‘this is not a rape case – I will not consider whether she was raped or not’.
‘We have found it incredibly difficult to follow this logic given that an essential element of the offence is for there to be a false statement concerning an imaginary offence and therefore, clearly, if the teenager was raped, she cannot be guilty.’
Zelia Gregoriou, an activist who stood outside the court yesterday, said: ‘This victim was never protected, from the first instance. From the first instance, she was raped again and again by the Press, by society and the legal system.’