The 19-year-old, who spent a month in a Cypriot jail and is on trial for causing “public mischief,” says she retracted her allegations under pressure from Cypriot police.
Rabat – The trial of a British woman for causing “public mischief” began today, Wednesday, October 2, in Famagusta, Cyprus. The 19-year-old accused 12 Israeli tourists of rape in July of this year, only to retract her complaint.
Speaking to the Independent, Michael Pollak, a human rights lawyer with legal aid group Justice Abroad, claimed that she retracted her statement under duress, after a night of intense questioning by Cypriot police. Police then charged the 19-year-old with “public mischief.” After one month in jail, she was released on bail at the end of August.
Pollak condemned the actions of the Cypriot police, saying; “The process by which they obtained a retraction statement from a vulnerable and young girl who had obviously suffered a lot was very worrying. She was kept in the police station for a long time overnight without access to a lawyer or without any other support.”
He added that she is now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of her ordeal and the months following the alleged rape. “Being imprisoned after she was the victim of such a serious crime added to the impact on her. It is amazing that in 2019 nothing is recorded in police stations in somewhere like Cyprus, which is part of Europe and a developed country.”
Pollak described his client, the defendant in the case, as a victim. He explained that the initial attitude towards the woman from the Cypriot police means that a thorough investigation into the rape allegations never took place.
“It seems that the Cypriot police have jumped to an incorrect conclusion before investigating and considering the evidence in this case and in doing so they have treated the victim of this terrible crime as a suspect. The effect of the Cypriot authorities prejudging this matter is they are now unable to investigate the serious allegations against the Israeli youths for rape,” said Pollak.
The human rights lawyer added that the teenager, whose name is being kept out of the press until the trial’s verdict, wants to clear her name.
The Famagusta court heard witness statements from an Isreali tourist who overheard the 12 Israelis accused of the rape. “They were going to f**k her, all of them. They were talking about it and laughing that they were going to do orgies with her.”
“They were saying this in a very bad and aggressive way,” the witness statement, which was read out in court, went on.
The alleged rape took place on July 17 in an Ayia Napa resort at the hands of 12 Isreali tourists aged from 15 to 18. Police arrested the 12 tourists but released them without charge. They are no longer under investigation and have returned to Israel.
The Cypriot police have strongly denied forcing the defendant to retract her statement, adding that she wrote the retraction of her own volition. Meanwhile, Pollak told the Independent that; “After providing a further written statement, the police officer told her that he believed that she was lying about the allegations and that he wanted to help her. He told her to write a confession and that if she did not do so he would arrest her friends in Cyprus for conspiracy.”
The legal team defending the British woman is moving to have the “public mischief” charges dismissed. However, if the court rules against her, she could face up to one year in prison.