NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The Supreme Court in Cyprus on Monday overturned the conviction of a British woman sentenced to a four-month suspended sentence for making up claims that she was gang raped by as many as a dozen Israelis during a vacation in Cyprus in 2019.
Michael Polak, who was among a team of lawyers representing the woman, called the decision a “watershed moment” for the woman and others “around the world who find themselves in similar positions.”
Polak said the Supreme Court agreed with the defense that the British woman didn’t receive a fair trial and that important fair trail provisions were “totally disregarded in this case.”
He said the “young, vulnerable woman was not only mistreated” when she reported the rape to police but was also put through a trial that was “manifestly unfair” as the Supreme Court found.
Defense lawyers had said that woman — whose identity hasn’t been formally released and was 19 at the time of her trial — was suffering from a stress disorder and had been pressured into making an “unreliable” retraction.
Moreover, the team said the “discourteous” lower court judge failed to provide the woman with a “fair hearing,” because he didn’t give defense lawyers the chance to put forward evidence supporting the woman’s claims.
A group of activists who gathered at the steps of the Supreme Court cheered and clapped as the ruling was announced.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the British government had said it had raised “numerous concerns” with Cypriot authorities about the judicial process in the case and the woman’s right to a fair trial.