Raab takes up false rape claim case with Cyprus

Min­is­ter ques­tions trial after teenager is con­victed of ly­ing over hol­i­day gang at­tack

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Josie En­sor in Par­al­imni, Nick Squires in Rome and Gor­don Rayner Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

DO­MINIC RAAB has ex­pressed “se­ri­ous con­cern” about the po­ten­tial for a mis­car­riage of jus­tice after a court in Cyprus con­victed a Bri­tish teenager of ly­ing about be­ing gang-raped on hol­i­day.

The For­eign Sec­re­tary will raise the case with the Cypriot au­thor­i­ties after the 19-year-old, who told po­lice she was raped by up to 12 Is­raeli youths in her ho­tel room, was left fac­ing up to a year in jail while her al­leged at­tack­ers were al­lowed to re­turn home.

Last night the woman vowed to clear her name and told The Sun she was not sur­prised by the judg­ment. The teenager also claimed she has been con­tacted by other peo­ple who have been “forced to re­main si­lent” dur­ing sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. Re­fer­ring to her plans to ap­peal, she told the news­pa­per: “This fight is for them and many more.”

The woman with­drew her com­plaint two weeks after the al­leged in­ci­dent, but says she was “forced” to do so by po­lice who left her “scared for my life” and who did not record the in­ter­view.

The case has raised ques­tions about the is­land’s treat­ment of vic­tims of sexual assault, with protesters claim­ing the Cypriot au­thor­i­ties “al­ways find a rea­son not to be­lieve women who claim they have been raped”.

A cam­paign has been launched on­line to en­cour­age tourists to boy­cott Cyprus on the grounds that it is “not safe for women” to go on hol­i­day there.

In a hard­en­ing of the For­eign Of­fice’s stance on the case, sources said “all op­tions are on the ta­ble” if there ap­pears to be a mis­car­riage of jus­tice. Mr Raab, a for­mer lawyer, is un­der­stood to have fol­lowed the case closely and “takes is­sues of ac­cess to jus­tice ex­tremely se­ri­ously,” sources said.

A For­eign Of­fice spokesman said: “The UK is se­ri­ously con­cerned about the fair trial guar­an­tees in this deeply dis­tress­ing case and we will be rais­ing the is­sue with the Cypriot au­thor­i­ties.”

As well as the al­le­ga­tion that she was pres­sured to re­tract her state­ment, the court heard claims that po­lice failed to prop­erly se­cure the al­leged crime scene or main­tain fully the in­tegrity of med­i­cal and foren­sic ev­i­dence.

The al­leged vic­tim, from Der­byshire, sighed as a judge said, via a trans­la­tor, that she had been con­victed of “public mis­chief ” fol­low­ing a trial in Par­al­imni in the Fa­m­a­gusta district of Cyprus.

Around 25 protesters from the Net­work Against Vi­o­lence Against Women sat in the court with gags over their mouths show­ing an im­age of stitchedup lips to sup­port the de­fen­dant. As she left court they shouted: “We are with you. We know. We be­lieve you.”

She will be sen­tenced on Jan 7, when she could be jailed for up to a year and or­dered to pay a £1,500 fine.

The teenager – who was on a work­ing hol­i­day to Ayia Napa dur­ing her sum­mer break be­tween school and start­ing univer­sity – re­ported the al­leged rape to po­lice hours after she claimed it hap­pened on July 17. Soon af­ter­wards, the 12 Is­raelis, who de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, were ar­rested.

Two weeks later the woman was ques­tioned for eight hours by Cypriot po­lice with­out a lawyer or fam­ily mem­ber present. Dur­ing that time, she signed a state­ment of re­trac­tion say­ing she had con­cocted the story. She later

told the court: “I didn’t think I would leave that po­lice sta­tion with­out sign­ing.”

Her mother said her lack of ac­cess to lawyers while be­ing ques­tioned “for hours on end” was “very bizarre”.

She was charged with caus­ing public mis­chief, de­fined by the Cypriot crim­i­nal code as know­ingly pro­vid­ing po­lice with “a false state­ment con­cern­ing an imag­i­nary of­fence”.

Her pass­port was con­fis­cated and she has had to forego a place at univer­sity due to the trial pro­ceed­ings.

The pros­e­cu­tion claimed she made the story up be­cause she felt ashamed and hu­mil­i­ated after dis­cov­er­ing she had been filmed hav­ing sex with one of the Is­raelis.

In his rul­ing, Judge Michalis Pa­p­athana­siou said the de­fen­dant did not tell the truth and tried to de­ceive the court with “con­ve­nient” and “eva­sive” state­ments.

The Is­raelis, aged 15 to 18, were al­lowed home to Tel Aviv, where they cel­e­brated by shout­ing “the Brit is a whore” and pop­ping cham­pagne at Ben Gu­rion air­port.

Michael Po­lak, a Bri­tish lawyer on the teenager’s de­fence team, said: “We are very dis­ap­pointed ... but we are not sur­prised given how the trial was con­ducted. It doesn’t fin­ish here. The next stage will be to ap­peal to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and, if nec­es­sary, to the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights.” The process could take up to four years, he said.

The Bri­tish teenager con­victed of ly­ing about be­ing gang-raped cov­ers her face as she leaves Fa­m­a­gusta court in Par­al­imni, Cyprus. Along with around 25 sup­port­ers, she was wear­ing a mask with an im­age of stitched-up lips in protest at the judg­ment

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