January 02, 2020

Cyprus rape case: Teenager begs Boris Johnson to bring her home and end waking nightmare
A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has pleaded with Boris Johnson to "bring me home". The 19-year-old alleged she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the Ayia Napa on July 17, but she has said Cypriot police forced her to sign a retraction statement which led to her being convicted of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni. "Every second of this ordeal has been a waking nightmare," the woman said. "I'm 19 and all I want to do is clear my name and come home to my family," she added in quotes reported by The Sun. "I would say to both the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, both of whom are fathers, please support me with your actions, not just with your words." The paper also reported that the Foreign Office had on Thursday contacted the teenager's family for the first time since she was convicted. Protesters claim the woman is a victim of Cyprus's "rape culture" Credit: IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images A Foreign Office spokeswoman told PA that the UK was "seriously concerned" about the "fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with Cypriot authorities". Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said on Monday that he would raise the case with the Cypriot authorities. The woman's legal team said that regardless of the sentence passed by the court, they would appeal against the conviction, even if she was given a suspended sentence - which would still mean a criminal record. “Appealing against the conviction is the most important thing for a young person,” Michael Polak, director of the campaigning group Justice Abroad, said. An online crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for the woman's daughter has passed £120,000, exceeding its £105,000 goal. 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 woman has been on bail since the end of August, after spending a month in prison, and could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced on January 7. A number of prominent legal figures in Cyprus have also written to Costas Clerides, the attorney-general, urging him to intervene in the case. The group includes former justice minister Kypros Chrysostomides, who told the BBC the woman involved had "already suffered a lot" and he expected her sentence would be "very lenient". "She has already been in detention for four-and-a-half weeks and she has been prevented from travelling for about five months already," he said. But the government of Cyprus has said it has "full confidence in the justice system and the courts". Meanwhile, the teenager's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has backed calls for a tourism boycott of the country. "The place isn't safe - it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that's happened to you, you're either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what's happened to my daughter may happen," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. The woman said her daughter was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hallucinations, and is sleeping for up to 20 hours a day because of a condition called hypersomnia. "She needs to get back to the UK to get that treated - that's my absolute primary focus. She can't be treated here because hearing foreign men speaking loudly will trigger an episode," she said. "It needs resolving otherwise she's going to carry on having this for the rest of her life."
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