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British teen’s rape claim trial begins in Cyprus

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This picture taken on July 30, 2019 shows a British teenager who accused seven Israelis of gang rape leaving the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus. – Initially, the 19-year-old woman had alleged that 12 Israelis gang raped her at the hotel where she was staying in the popular Ayia Napa resort on July 17. The young Israeli tourists were remanded in custody the next day. But hours before their second appearance in court five of them were released and sent home late the next day. (Photo by Matthieu CLAVEL / AFP)

The trial of a British teenager accused of falsely claiming she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists began in Cyprus on Wednesday, with her lawyers criticising the investigation into the case.

The 19-year-old, who last month 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 ($1,850).

She was visibly upset after the judge said the trial would continue on October 15 after a more than two-hour hearing during which the defence tried to prove she had acted under duress and was given time to study new technical evidence.

Her lawyers say her rape claim retraction was coerced.

Michael Polak, from British group Justice Abroad which is supporting her legal team, said the defence was “very pleased with the way things have gone” in the hearing.

“Of course, she wants justice to be done. She is not guilty,” he told journalists.

“We say a rape did occur, and there has been an investigation which falls way below any proper standard of investigation… Cyprus is a wealthy country and a developed country but nothing within that police station is recorded on audio or video which is amazing.”

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 court on Wednesday eased the bail conditions for the woman who must now present herself to police once a week, instead of three times previously.

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


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