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British woman convicted over Cyprus gang rape claim ‘anxious but upbeat’ ahead of Supreme Court appeal

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A British woman, who was convicted of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus, is said to be “anxious and upbeat” as her lawyers appeal her case at the Cypriot Supreme Court.

The then 19-year-old, from Derby, was given a suspended four-month jail term in 2020 after a judge found her guilty of public mischief following a trial.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room, during a party in Ayia Napa on 17 July 2019, but was charged after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.

A British teenager, convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang-rape, covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni
Image: Her lawyers are seeking to have her conviction overturned by the Supreme Court in Cyprus

The now 21-year-old university student has maintained she was pressured by officers to withdraw the allegation and has vowed to clear her name having flown back to the UK after being sentenced.

Her team of English and Cypriot lawyers have taken the case to the Supreme Court, which is in Cyprus’s capital, Nicosia, on Thursday.

They are arguing the conviction is unsafe and are seeking to set it aside.

The woman is not attending the hearing, which is in front of a three-panel judge, including English-born president Persefoni Panayi.

More on Cyprus

Lewis Power QC, her English barrister, said: “She’s bearing up really well. She is getting on with her life at university.

“She is very anxious about the result but she is fairly upbeat and determined that this won’t ruin her life.

Protesters supporting the woman outside court
Image: Protesters have shown their support for the woman through her court hearings

“We spoke to her yesterday and her mother. They are back in the UK watching from afar.

“It is so important for young women across the world. This case is a beacon.”

The woman’s lawyers have submitted a written document of around 150 pages, which they will expand on in oral arguments based on transcripts from the trial.

Her legal team will argue the retraction, which formed the basis of the prosecution case, should never have been admitted into evidence because it was made by a vulnerable teenager who spent almost seven hours in a police station without legal representation.

The woman's charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail or a fine.
Image: The woman was given a four-month suspended sentence in 2020

The decision could take between three to six months, although the lawyers hope it could come sooner.

Mr Power added: “The young woman’s story has reverberated around the world since it hit the headlines in 2019.

“It has been both shocking and distressing and has for her been deeply harrowing, humiliating and personally intrusive.

“Today though, we hope, the Supreme Court of Cyprus (will ensure) this girl can free herself from the shackles of an unjust conviction, which has tarnished her young life.”

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the woman’s legal team plan to take the case to the European Court of Human rights, which they say found against Cyprus after a teenager was brought into a police station in Limassol and separated from his father before confessing to murder without a lawyer.

The woman received a four-month jail term, suspended for three years
Image: Her lawyers say they will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if they are unsuccessful

The 12 men accused of rape in 2019 were aged between 18 and 20 at the time and were arrested.

They denied any wrongdoing and were freed, before returning home.