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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - PARALIMNI, Cyprus: A Cypriot court on Tuesday handed a British teenager a four-month suspended prison sentence after convicting her of falsely accusing a dozen Israeli tourists of gang rape.
The 19-year smiled and hugged family after the sentence was handed down following a months-long trial that her lawyers say was littered with investigatory and legal mistakes and issues, including repeated refusals by the judge to consider whether she was raped.
The case has sparked protests in Britain and calls for tourists to boycott the island.
The sentencing took place to loud shouts from protesters outside the court room, including around 50 Israelis — mainly women, but some men — who traveled to Cyprus to offer moral support to the woman.
As the judge delivered his sentencing, shouts of “Cyprus justice, shame on you” were audible in the court, despite police ordering journalists to close windows and blinds.
Lawyers for the woman, whom AFP is not naming, say she was raped in the seaside resort of Ayia Napa by 12 Israeli teenagers in their hotel room on July 17.
She fled in distress to her own hotel and was examined by an in-house doctor, who called the police.
A group of Israeli teenagers were arrested and appeared in court, but 10 days after making a complaint of rape she was interviewed again by police and signed a retraction.
The Israelis were allowed to return home and not called as witnesses.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said he has “firmly and categorically registered” concerns with Cypriot officials about the case.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou had told the young woman “statements you have given were false,” as he convicted her on December 30.
He said during the trial that her account was beset by “contradictions, confusion, lack of logic and exaggeration.”
Lewis Power, a British lawyer who is part of the woman’s legal team, said she would leave Cyprus by the end of the day.
An appeal to the Supreme Court “will begin in the next few days,” but it is not clear when any case will be heard, because the “wheels of justice move very slowly in Cyprus,” he said.
The case has highlighted “a gaping chasm in the treatment” of victims of sexual assault in Cyprus relative to other jurisdictions, Power added.
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