British teen denies faking Cyprus gang rape accusation, trial on Oct 2

British teen denies faking Cyprus gang rape accusation, trial on Oct 2

Lawyer of the legal aid group Justice Abroad Michael Polak and one of the lawyers of a 19-year-old
Lawyer of the legal aid group Justice Abroad Michael Polak (R) and one of the lawyers of a 19-year-old British woman, Lewis Power Q C, arrive at the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus Aug 27, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou)

PARALIMNI, Cyprus: A British teenager who accused a group of Israeli youths of gang-raping her in Cyprus pleaded not guilty on Tuesday (Aug 27) to charges of making up the accusation.

The 19-year-old was arrested after police said she withdrew an accusation that 12 Israeli teenagers raped her in a hotel room in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in mid-July.

Her Cypriot lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou informed the court that she will request that the Cypriot attorney general suspends criminal proceedings against her client on the grounds that her rape claim retraction was coerced.

The teenager was also represented at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in southeast Cyprus by British lawyer Lewis Power QC with Michael Polak from British legal aid group Justice Abroad supporting the legal team.

A court in the town of Paralimni ordered her released on bail before the trial which is due to start on Oct 2. She has spent a month in custody.

If convicted the woman, who has not been named, could face up to one year in prison and a fine of around €1,700 (US$1,888).

The Israelis aged 15 to 18 who were on holiday in Cyprus, were detained and later released without charge last month after the woman was arrested on suspicion of "making a false statement about an imaginary crime", according to Cypriot police.

Justice Abroad, which is assisting the teenager, says she did not voluntarily retract the rape allegation.

Polak, a British barrister with the organisation, has said the woman was refused legal representation, despite requests and in contravention of the European convention on human rights.

Her parents are seeking donations for their daughter's legal defence by setting up a GoFundMe page which has already raised £23,556 (US$28,900).

"We maintain that the statement was given under duress and in breach of her rights, resulting in the collapse of the initial investigation and charges of public mischief being made against her," the parents said on the page.

Source: Reuters/AFP/nr

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