Cyprus: controversial verdict for teenage girl
A 19-year-old British woman was given a four-month suspended sentence for false testimony after accusing 12 Israelis of gang rape. Seven of the men were temporarily taken into custody in the course of the investigation. The woman's lawyers say the police pressured her to withdraw her statements. Commentators are scathing in their criticism of the verdict.
Devastating signal to victims of abuse
The Guardian finds the Cypriot judgement outrageous:
“This is, after all, a young woman who retracted her original allegation of rape only after a lengthy police interrogation with no lawyer present. A pathologist testified that she had injuries consistent with being attacked. The group of young Israeli men she originally accused of bursting in – while she was having consensual sex in a hotel room with one of their friends – and raping her were not required to testify, yet still the judge seemed convinced she wasn't telling the truth. So the dispiriting message conveyed to young women travelling abroad, and not just to Cyprus, is that if something terrible happens then it's probably safest not to tell.”
Police's behaviour scandalous
The way the police treated the young woman is also outrageous, the Cyprus Mail concurs:
“Even if she were lying about the rape, the fact that it took eight hours to squeeze a confession out of her means there was duress, and that in itself raises reasonable doubt. It means she was not willing to confess until she was worn down by questioning. ... Did each of the 12 Israeli boys get an eight-hour overnight grilling to get to the truth? Police did not even secure their communications data apparently. Why not? No police interviews were recorded either as we know that could have determined the truth.”