Court rules Briton was not coerced into changing rape claim

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A Cypriot judge ruled on Thursday that a British teenager accused of falsely claiming she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists was not coerced by police into changing her mind.

Famagusta district court judge Michalis Papathanasiou said defence witnesses were “problematic” and the trial could go ahead after deciding the 19-year-old made a voluntary retraction which was admissible evidence.

He said the defendant’s version of events “remains essentially unfounded or even unconvincing and cannot be accepted”.

“Her version is characterised by contradictions, confusion, lack of logic and exaggeration,” said Papathanasiou.

The woman’s lawyers had claimed that the teenager was pressured into signing a statement which was written by a detective.

The judge said the police had acted properly at all times with no pressure put on the woman to change her mind about the initial rape claim.

He dismissed evidence from a psychologist who said the Briton was suffering from PTSD when she signed the statement and a linguistic expert who argued a non-English speaker had written the statement.

Defence lawyers were hoping that if the retraction was deemed void the charge would be dropped.

During the ‘trial within a trial’ the 19-year-old said police were “hostile and negative” and asked her to sign a statement she had not seen.

She also claimed police did not allow her to go to the toilet on two occasions when requesting a bathroom break.

The prosecution argued the Briton was made aware of her rights and that her statement had been voluntarily given without duress.

The 19-year-old, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of “public mischief,” covered her face as she arrived at the Famagusta district court in Paralimni in the southeast of the island.

If convicted, she could face up to one year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros.

Initially, the teenager had alleged that 12 Israelis raped her on July 17 at a hotel in the resort of Ayia Napa, a magnet for younger tourists attracted by its beaches and nightlife.

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

The Israelis have denied any allegation of assault and have since returned home.

Rights groups argued the teenager has suffered humiliation – as well as being mistreated by both the police and the media.

They called for an investigation into the way police dealt with the case and also criticised the way rape cases and victims were handled in Cyprus.

The next hearing is scheduled for Friday.