Ayia Napa Rape Victim Accused Of Lying Is Supported By Demonstrators Outside Court
Demonstrators have flooded to court in support of the Ayia Napa rape victim who was accused of lying.
The 21-year-old British woman found herself at the centre of headlines all around the world last year, when 12 Israeli men were arrested after she claimed she had been gang-raped at a hotel in Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
The student, from Derby, was accused of lying about the alleged attack and was subsequently arrested. She was found guilty of public mischief in January after a Cypriot judge declared that she had lied, but she now hopes to have her conviction overturned.
Supporters of the woman, who was a teenager at the time of the alleged attack, flocked to the appeal, which was held today, September 16, at the Supreme Court.
After being found guilty of public mischief – despite her claims that she had been bullied by police into changing her statement after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later – the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a four-month custodial sentence, suspended for three years.
The men allegedly involved in the incident, aged between 15 and 20, were arrested but denied any wrongdoing, and so were later released and sent home.
Banners at the demonstration featured slogans such as ‘I believe her’ and ‘End rape culture’, and chants were shouted, such as ‘Cyprus justice shame on you’ and ‘the English woman is one of us’, reported The Sun.
Campaigners are hoping that British-born judge Persefoni Panayi will take a ‘less prejudiced’ approach to the case.
Nicoletta Charalambidi, a top human rights lawyer, told The Sun that the woman is ‘desperate to clear her name’.
The woman’s lawyer, Lewis Power QC, reported that the alleged rape victim was ‘upbeat and determined to get on with her life and her university career’.
Power said how the woman and her mother were ‘anxious’ about the result and would be ‘watching from afar’, considering the story hit so many headlines globally when it first arose in 2019.
It has been both shocking and distressing and has for her been deeply harrowing, humiliating, and personally intrusive, yet she has risen above this with grit and determination and has courageously resolved to fight this case to the end where she believes that justice will be done.
We also believe that ultimately justice will be achieved through careful scrutiny of both evidence and adherence to the rule of law.
Power concluded by saying that himself, the woman and her mother hope that the ‘girl can free herself from the shackles of an unjust conviction which has tarnished her young life’.
Barrister Michal Polak QC, of Justice Abroad, commented how it was believed that there were ‘predetermined issues in the case’. He accused the trial judge of ‘shouting’ during submissions and the court of failing to take into account any ‘expert evidence’.
He said that the woman was ‘clearly suffering from PTSD when she was being questioned by the police’ and claimed that a pathologist even had ‘evidence to show the girl had injuries to substantiate a rape took place’, which wasn’t even considered by the original court.
Polak concluded that the case was ‘undoubtedly the biggest […] in Cyprus legal history’, and that ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’, the event would be watched by the entire world and be a ‘beacon for women’.
The woman’s lawyers plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if the appeal fails.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
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