Ayia Napa gang rape teen ‘must be pardoned’, say lawyers

Lawyers have called on the Cypriot president to paradon a British teenager convicted of lying about being gang-raped by 12 Israelis.

Legal officials in both Cyprus and the UK have criticised Nicos Anastasiades over the case, saying the trial should never have gone ahead.

The woman, who has not been named, said she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.

She later retracted the allegation and changed her statement 10 days later, citing pressure from Cypriot police. The dozen young men aged between 15 and 20 were subsequently released.

On December 30 the woman, who was due to go to university in September, was found guilty of public mischief at Famagusta District Court.

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Sentencing will take place on January 7 and the 19-year-old could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced on January 7.

"The authorities should absolutely consider a pardon," Achilleas Demetriades, a leading human rights lawyer told The Times.

Human rights lawyers in the UK also criticised the young woman's treatment, adding that she had good grounds to launch an appeal.

The case "reeks of unfairness and injustice," Kirsty Brimelow QC said, suggesting that teenager could bring her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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On Wednesday a crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for the woman had surpassed £80,000.

The "help teen victim get justice in Cyprus" GoFundMe page was set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to raise cash for the 19-year-old's legal representation.

The Foreign Office has said the UK is "seriously concerned" about the fairness of the woman's trial and it is understood officials have raised the "deeply distressing case" with the Cypriot authorities.

And the psychologist who assessed the woman as part of her defence case, Dr Christine Tizzard, said she was concerned the trial had not fully considered that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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She told the Guardian: "The salient point is that she was diagnosed with PTSD. That's a standalone diagnosis. It's a valid diagnosis and it hasn't really been fully represented.

"Aside the fact it hasn't been fully represented, it means she's been unable to get the treatment she so sorely needs and every day she's not having treatment the worse it gets."

But the government of Cyprus has said it has "full confidence in the justice system and the courts".

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