A British teenager convicted by a judge in Cyprus of lying about being gang raped in Ayia Napa has been given a suspended prison sentence and is now free to return to the UK.
The woman, 19, was met by women’s rights groups chanting ‘we believe you’ as she entered Famagusta District Court in Paralimni today. In a short hearing just after 7am (9am local time), the teenager was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for three years.
Hugging her family and her legal team, the woman left court weeping, with her head in her hands. Her mother shouted ‘she’s coming home’ to supporters outside court, telling reporters she feels ‘relieved’. She will now be able to go home after Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told her he was giving her a ‘second chance’.
Her lawyers – who say she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and needs urgent medical attention – had asked the judge to consider a suspended prison sentence after she was convicted of public mischief last week. The teenager’s family earlier said they feared for her mental health if she were to be sent back to prison and hoped she would be allowed to return to the UK as soon as possible.
The teenager claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17. She was charged, while the young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident, were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
The woman spent around a month in prison before being granted bail in August. She maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police. The case hinged on a retraction statement signed by the teenager following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.
The teenager is now expected to be allowed to return home to the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over the treatment of the teenager with the Cypriot authorities after her conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.
The teenager was given hope of being allowed to go home following sentencing after it was reported she may be pardoned by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades if given an immediate prison sentence. That pardon is not now needed after the judge suspended her prison term.