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British teenager convicted of lying in Ayia Napa case

LONDON:
A British teenager has been sentenced by a court in southern Cyprus to four months in prison for lying about rape allegations towards 12 Israelis, but her sentence has been suspended for three years, according to media reports.

The 19-year-old student, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, was also fined €140 ($157) by the Greek Cypriot court, but she will be able to go back to the U.K.

“Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless,” Lewis Power QC, the teen’s British lawyer, said following the conviction.

“We will be appealing the conviction and will take this case to the supreme court of human rights,” he said.

Power said: “We say and will maintain that this young girl was stripped both of her dignity and her basic human rights. She has been diagnosed with severe PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and this case has resulted in the deterioration of her mental health.”

Twelve Israeli tourists age 15-22 were arrested after being accused by the teenager of gang rape in a hotel room in the resort town of Ayia Napa but were later released by Greek Cypriot authorities after the teenager allegedly retracted her accusations.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court building in Paralimni chanting “Cyprus justice, shame on you,” “Stop blaming the victim,” and “You are not alone.”

Boycott

The court ruling came as a movement to boycott southern Cyprus is picking up steam

The teenager’s mother last week joined in a tourism boycott against southern Cyprus after claiming that her daughter needs to return to the U.K. for treatment and voicing concerns about a fair trial.

She said: “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.”

The British Foreign Office said the U.K. is seriously concerned about the fairness of the woman’s trial, and it is understood officials have raised the “deeply distressing case” with Greek Cypriot authorities.

The teenager and her family are expected to return home in the U.K. on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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