Cyprus defends courts after British teen convicted over rape claim

The British teen covers her face as she is escorted to a police car outside the courthouse. (Reuters pic)

NICOSIA: Cyprus defended its judiciary Tuesday, after Britain expressed concern over a Cypriot court finding a British teenager guilty of falsely claiming she was gang-raped.

The Cyprus “government has full confidence in the judiciary and the courts… which should be strictly left to enforce the laws,” government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said in a statement.

His remarks came after the British Foreign Office said it was “seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees” of a British woman convicted of “public mischief” in a Cyprus court on Monday.

The 19-year-old said she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists at a hotel in Ayia Napa in July.

She later withdrew her complaint but said she had been pressured by Cyprus police.

The accused Israelis, aged 15 to 18, were released without charge after the woman was arrested on suspicion of “making a false statement about an imaginary crime”.

The judge discredited her testimony at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in southeast Cyprus on Monday.

“Statements you have given were false,” he told the woman in remarks translated by an interpreter.

Defence lawyers for the woman cited “many violations” in the right to fair trial and vowed to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said the case was “deeply distressing” and it would raise the case with Cypriot authorities.

British legal aid group Justice Abroad, which is supporting the woman, said the defence would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

The woman faces up to a year in prison and a fine of about €1,700.

Sentencing was adjourned until Jan 7.

The Cyprus government would “not intervene in cases heard by the competent courts,” said Koushos, adding that authorities would not comment further on a pending case.