British Teen Will Appeal Four-Month Suspended Sentence For 'Lying' In Ayia Napa Rape Trial
The British teenager accused of lying about being gang-raped by 12 men in Ayia Napa will appeal her conviction, lawyers said this morning.
The 19-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence on Tuesday after being found guilty of Public Mischief in one of the most controversial and high-profile rape trials in recent years.
The teenager's nightmare ordeal began last July when she travelled to the party resort of Ayia Napa, in Cyprus, where she met a 21-year-old Israeli man who she says later gang raped her in a hotel room, along with 11 of his friends.
Alone in a foreign country, she did what every woman is urged to do; she reported the rape to the police in Cyprus and recalled the traumatic turn of events. She was reportedly interrogated about her ordeal for eight hours without a lawyer present.
The men - aged between 15 and 22 - were arrested and the teenager was set to fly home. But days later, the case took a horrific twist when she was allegedly pressured into retracting her statement, and accused of fabricating the incident.
Following this morning's sentencing the teen, who has had to remain in Cyprus for the last six months, is finally allowed to fly home but her lawyer has said the fight will "go on regardless", with reports indicating that the family will seek an expedited appeal at the Supreme Court of Cyprus as well as considering going to the European Court of Human Rights.
During the trial a forensic pathologist, Dr Marios Matsakis, told the court that the teen's injuries (of which included 35 bruises) were "consistent with the rape having taken place".
The judge, Michaelis Andreas Papathanasiou, said he believed the marks were made by a jelly fish.
Before the young woman's sentencing today, tensions had been rising both in the UK and internationally.
With the teen, from Derbyshire, having been diagnosed with PTSD following her six-month long ordeal, her family, alongside women's charities and those who believe she was coerced into 'admitting' she lied about the rape, had been descending on the court room to protest over the "injustice".
On Monday night, news broke that the teenager could be granted a pardon by the Cypriot president, but instead she was handed the four-month sentence - which will be suspended for three years - as well as a fine of €140 (£126).
Lawyer Lewis Power QC has confirmed that the woman is now allowed to go home, but her fight will "go on regardless".
In a statement, he said she had gone "overnight from being victim to being the accused having to endure not only the dreadful physical violation of a pre-meditated gang rape and serious sexual assault perpetrated upon her but also the prolonged mental ordeal under the judicial process in Cyprus."
He also said the teenager had been diagnosed with severe PTSD, with the case leading to a "deterioration of her mental health".
The family are now expected to be seeking an expedited appeal at the Supreme Court of Cyprus as well as considering going to the European Court of Human Rights.
Throughout her eight-hour interrogation with police last summer, the woman had no lawyer present. What resulted was a retraction statement - signed by the teenager - to say she had lied about the rape because she "felt embarrassed" as she "did not know [the men] were recording [the incident]". However, doubt has been cast over the authenticity of the statement.
The teenager says she was "bullied" into retracting the allegation and stands by her initial report that she was gang raped by the 12 men.
Despite the verdict, several experts providing evidence in court have echoed her version of events.
OH WOW, this :point_down: #IBelieveHer #EndRapeCulture #WeStandTogether #MeToo https://t.co/t0A0Qb1Z3a
- Finding My Voice (@FindingMyVoice2) January 7, 2020
The doctor who treated her hours after the incident, Sergios Sergiou, said he "believed" the teenager, explaining: "She was very stressed and having a panic attack. She was crying and screaming and her friends said to me some guys had raped her."
Meanwhile, forensic linguist, Dr Andrea Nini, who analysed the retraction statement said the language used was "highly unlikely" to have been written by the well-educated teenager.
The statement - which referred to sex as "doing sexual intercourse" - was deemed by the expert to contain a number of phrases that were inconsistent with the language that would have been used by a native English speaker.
Detective Sergeant Marios Christou remains adamant that the Brit wrote the key part of the statement herself.
#webelieveyou#IBelieveHer #IsraelBelievesYou #YouAreNotAlone#Solidarity#מאמינהלך#כולןבקפריסין https://t.co/nHLiEYz2Vi
- كان علي أن أسأل hadtoask (@hadtoask) January 7, 2020
There were further concerns over both the evidence and the treatment of the teenager. As well as being denied a lawyer - which is in breach of her human rights - it's reported that the hotel room crime scene was not locked down immediately after the initial report.
The Sun also report that seven pieces of video footage were submitted by the prosecution, but four were allegedly involving other women.
Meanwhile, the judge dismissed defence witnesses as "unreliable" and reportedly refused to even consider whether a rape had taken place in the hotel.
Lawyer Michael Polak of Justice Abroad has said: "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 find it incredibly difficult to follow this logic. An essential element of the offence is for there to be a 'false statement concerning an imaginary offence'. Therefore, if the teenager was raped, she cannot be guilty."
It's unsurprising that the trial has caused rapidly growing discontent among women's charities as well as members of the public, both in Britain, Cyprus and internationally.
Outside the court room and a newly created group of Cypriot women, the Network Against Violence Against Women, have been campaigning outside the court in the pouring rain for justice.
It's reported the trial has struck a chord with the group, with another member, Zelia Gregoriou telling The Article: "We knew if from July, when the accusation of rape came up, that the system would fail this woman.
"Every rape claim is treated pre-emptively as a false rape claim. It's not the exception."
#IBelieveHer so glad she is coming home. She's innocent
- Charlotte :tiger: (@thatsmytweet0) January 7, 2020
Online, the hashtag #ibelieveher started trending on Twitter last week, with people across the world pledging their support.
Meanwhile, British charity Solace Women's Aid has been regularly pledging their support, writing on Twitter: "British woman found guilty of lying that she was gang raped in Ayia Napa. This is an appalling result, a conviction of a young woman who is being victimised again by the Cypriot legal system. We stand in solidarity".
Added to this and the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, also urged Cyprus to "do the right thing" this week, explaining to the BBC that he had conveyed his "very serious concerns" to the Cypriot authorities.
Meanwhile, the UK tour operator behind the Brit's holiday will no longer sending youngsters to the resort.
In a statement, Summer Takeover said: "Summer Takeover takes the safety of our guests extremely seriously. We will no longer be operating in Ayia Napa in any capacity. Any affiliation to Pambos Napa Rocks has been removed from our website and no dates are available [to] book."
Before her sentencing, the teenager had even pleaded to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene, explaining: "Every second of this ordeal has been a waking nightmare [...] I would say to both the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, both of whom are fathers, please support me with your actions, not just your words. Time is running out for me."
Today, the teenager has said she is "devoted to carrying on fighting".
Wearing a mask which features stitches across her lips - in protest to her treatment - she has vowed to clear her name, but is fearful that the conviction will prevent her lifelong dream of becoming a police officer.
Featured Image Credit: PA