British woman will learn next week if she has overturned conviction for lying about being gang-raped by 12 Israeli students in Cyprus when aged 19
The woman was in a consensual relationship with semi-pro footballer Shimon Yusufov, who was also 19
A British woman is expected to find out if she has overturned her conviction for lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus next week, her lawyers have said.
The country’s Supreme Court is due to hand down its decision in Nicosia on Monday – following an appeal hearing last September.
The woman, a university student from Derby, was 19 when she was given a suspended four-month jail term in 2020 by a Cypriot judge who found her guilty of public mischief following a trial at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.
She told police she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17 2019, but was charged after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.
She was in a consensual relationship with semi-pro footballer Shimon Yusufov, who was also 19, but told police he held her down while she was raped by a gang of 12 who also filmed it on their mobile phones in a hotel room after a night out.
The woman has maintained she was pressured by officers to withdraw the rape allegation and has vowed to clear her name, having flown home from the island hours after being sentenced.
Her team of English and Cypriot lawyers took her appeal to the Supreme Court in the capital Nicosia, in front of a panel of three judges, including the English-born president of the Supreme Court, Persefoni Panayi, arguing the conviction is unsafe and should be set aside.
The teenager, convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang-rape, covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus on January 7, 2020
Squalid: The bedroom where the teenager claims she endured the ordeal in Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Israeli youths are greeted with hugs after being released from police custody in 2019
Michael Polak, a lawyer from the Justice Abroad organisation that is assisting the woman, said: ‘The decision on Monday is a very important one, not just for the woman involved but also for the recognition of fair trial provisions in Cypriot courts.
‘It was clear to all watching the trial of our client that guilt had been decided before the trial had begun.
‘Key provisions of both the common law and established European human rights law fair trial provisions were not applied and this formed the basis of the appeal we have brought before the Supreme Court.
‘We hope that on Monday the Supreme Court will overturn the unjust conviction of our client.
Some of the Israeli men who were initially accused of rape are seen arriving in court on July 25. The woman’s family say police protected them and treated her as a criminal from the start
January 7, 2020: Supporters were singing and chanting, saying the teenager was betrayed by police and the legal system in Cyprus
The young Briton should have been starting university but instead has been trapped on the holiday island where she insists she was raped and was coerced by investigators to retract her claim
‘If not, we will bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights, who has already decided a number of the key arguments we have put forward including in a case involving the Republic of Cyprus.’
During last year’s appeal hearing, the woman’s lawyers said the retraction statement, which formed the basis of the prosecution case, should never have been admitted into evidence because it was made by a vulnerable teenager who had spent almost seven hours in a police station without a lawyer.
Her Cypriot lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou also said the lower court started from the position that there was no rape and had misunderstood the offence of public mischief, which requires a false statement of a make-believe crime.
January 7, 2020: The woman’s supporters were chanting: ‘Mr Judge – shame on you, don’t you have a daughter too’
The 19-year-old (pictured covering her face leaving a court in December 2019) hugged her mother and legal team after she was given a suspended sentence
She said the trial judge, Michalis Papathanasiou, did not allow the defendant to talk about the alleged rape, pointing to the seven times he said: ‘This is not a rape trial.’
He was also said to have ignored defence expert evidence and failed to consider police failures in investigating the rape allegations.
Sentencing in January 2020, the judge said the evidence showed she had ‘lied’, but added: ‘Her psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year, this has led me to decide to give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years.’
The 12 Israeli men and boys, aged between 15 and 20 at the time, arrested over the incident denied any wrongdoing. They were freed and returned home.