Lawyers representing a British woman found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus have said they hope the conviction could be overturned within a month ahead of an appeal at the country’s Supreme Court.
The then 19-year-old, from Derby, was handed a suspended four-month jail term last year by a judge who found her guilty of public mischief following a trial.
She told police she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17 2020 but was charged after signing a retraction statement 10 days later.
Now a 21-year-old university student, the woman has maintained she was pressured by officers to withdraw the rape allegation and has vowed to clear her name, having flown home from the holiday island hours after being sentenced.
Her team of English and Cypriot lawyers will on Thursday take the fight to the Supreme Court, in Cyprus capital Nicosia, arguing the conviction is unsafe and should be set aside.
The woman is not expected to attend the hearing in front of a panel of three judges, including the English-born president Persefoni Panayi.
The woman’s lawyers have submitted a written document of around 150 pages, which they will expand on in oral arguments based on transcripts from the trial.
The legal team will argue the retraction statement, which formed the basis of the prosecution case, should never have been admitted into evidence because it was made by a vulnerable teenager who had spent almost seven hours in a police station without a lawyer.
Barrister Michael Polak, from the Justice Abroad group, said: “Decisions in the Supreme Court tend to come within six months but we hope for it to come sooner.
“The best-case scenario is they listen to all our arguments, come back soon, within a month or so, and overturn the conviction.
“It is very important for the young lady in terms of future prospects, jobs, associations, etc.”
If the appeal fails, the lawyers plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which Mr Polak said found against Cyprus after a teenager was brought into a police station in Limassol and separated from his father before confessing to murder.
“With the precedent for us, we are confident in European human rights law,” he said.
They will also argue trial Judge Michalis Papathanasiou failed to consider all the elements of the offence of public mischief before finding her guilty, ignored defence expert evidence and failed to consider police failures in investigating the rape allegations.
The 12 Israeli young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20 at the time, arrested over the incident denied any wrongdoing, were freed and returned home.