A piece just published by The Times, emphases ours:
The British teenager convicted in Cyprus of making false gang rape allegations is returning home today after she was spared jail by a judge.
The 19-year-old from Derbyshire wept and hugged her family after the judge brought to an end a five-month ordeal, giving her a suspended four-month jail sentence.
Chants could be heard from supporters outside court who had flown over from Israel to protest against the controversial conviction. After the hearing the woman said she was “relieved” at the sentence.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told her she “deserves a second chance.”
Afterwards, the woman’s mother, who wore a unicorn brooch that had been given to her by one of the protesters, said: “There were tears beforehand with my daughter because she knew that it might be her last chance to give her mum a hug. We did not know how this was going to go today — it could have gone either way. [J4MB: No, it couldn’t have.] The real feeling was one of relief.”
At the Famagusta district court, in Paralimni, the judge said: “I admit that I have been troubled over this — all the evidence shows she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs. Twelve people were arrested and at least seven were not free for ten days.
“This is also a serious offence but the fact that she has missed her academic studies and her youthfulness, in prison for a month, away from her home and family have led to be deciding for the sentence to be suspended.”
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, had called on Cyprus to “do the right thing” following a trial that has been dogged by claims that the judge ignored key evidence supporting the woman’s allegations.
Although today’s verdict brought some closure, the woman’s legal team said that she would appeal against her conviction, which it is thought could take two to four years.
During the trial the mother gained power of attorney so that she could defer five university offers to study policing and criminology on behalf of her daughter and it is hoped that she will be able to start university in September.
Speaking outside court, her barrister, Lewis Power, QC, said: “This young woman has shown immense bravery, courage and fortitude in coming forward. Her identity has been compromised, she has been trolled viciously on social media and [she] has been subjected to vile comments. Some of those who perpetrated this serious sexual assault returned to their homeland bragging triumphantly and unashamedly as to what they had done to her, compounding her trauma.
“This teenager remains determined to achieve justice and myself and the whole defence team share the same determination.”
The woman’s four-month sentence was suspended for three years and she was fined €140.
On July 17 when the woman claimed that a group of Israeli friends, one of whom she had been having a relationship with while working in a resort, gang raped her at Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in Ayia Napa. After running semi-naked from the budget hotel room, she reported the incident to police and they arrested the man she had been seeing and 11 others aged 15-22. The males denied the allegations.
The police brought the woman in for further questioning and after more than seven hours of questioning without a lawyer she retracted her statement.
The men were allowed to return to Israel and were filmed arriving at the airport being greeted by their families, opening champagne and singing “the Brit is a whore”.
The woman was remanded in custody for a month where she shared a jail cell with eight other women and charged with making a false rape claim. She was granted bail at the end of August but had not been allowed to leave the island.
Her lawyers tried to get her statement exonerating the men withdrawn, saying it had been made under duress. During the trial, a linguist said that the statement she gave to police retracting the rape claim contained mistakes that appeared to suggest it was dictated to her by police officers.
A defence pathologist also said that photographs of 35 bruises on her body were evidence that she had been raped. [J4MB: Absurd. Do self-inflicted injuries not result in bruises?] Despite the woman claiming she had pinned down by her shoulders, no photos were taken of her upper body.
Nevertheless, the judge ruled police had acted within the law at all times.
The trial began in October and following a series of delays the judge last week found her guilty, a decision that was immediately criticised by the Foreign Office.
At times during the trial the judge would shout at the woman and demand she show the court “respect”.
Behind the story
The family went out of their way to thank Dominic Raab after he personally intervened following comments that the British government were not doing enough to help (Ben Ellery writes).
Last week the mother said that she had not heard from the Foreign Office, telling Today on BBC Radio 4: “I would love the Foreign Secretary to get involved, that would be fantastic”.
On Sunday Mr Raab urged Cyprus to “do the right thing” before the woman’s sentencing and he spoke overnight to Cyprus’s foreign minister, Nikos Christodoulides.
About 1.3 million Britons visited the island last year, accounting for about a third of all tourists and making up the largest single group of tourists. Critics condemned the woman’s conviction and said it was made in an attempt to protect Cyprus’s tourism industry, which is worth 22 per cent of the country’s GDP.
A social media campaign to boycott the country was backed by the woman’s mother, who told Today: “The place isn’t safe — it is absolutely not safe.”
After international outcry over the conviction there had been speculation that if the woman received a jail sentence President Anastasiades would pardon her.
After today’s verdict the mother said that she was very grateful to Mr Raab. “I spoke with him and he was very supportive. I am grateful to the Foreign Office,” she said.
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