Teen sentenced over false rape claim

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(BBC) – A British teenager has been given a four-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of lying about gang-rape in Cyprus.

The 19-year-old hugged her family and left court weeping after she was sentenced for public mischief.

Her sentence was suspended for three years, and she has been ordered to pay €148 (£125) in legal fees. The teenager now plans to return to the UK.

Women’s rights groups protested outside court ahead of the sentencing.

In Famagusta District Court on Tuesday, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told her he was giving her a “second chance”.

Supporters from Cyprus and a group of women who travelled from Israel gathered outside court holding placards.

They chanted “don’t be afraid, we believe you” as the sentence was read out.

The teenager’s mother shouted “she’s coming home” to the group following sentencing, and told reporters she felt “relieved”.

The woman’s lawyer, Lewis Power QC, said she would be returning to the UK on Tuesday.

Speaking to BBC News, he said the case was “not finished by any means” and that he would be appealing the conviction.

He said: “We will be seeking an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and we will also be considering going to the European Court of Human Rights.

“We do not feel we have had justice in terms of how the trial progressed, the manner in which it was conducted, the initial police investigation and the fact that we feel she did not receive a fair trial.”

During sentencing, the judge said he was “troubled” about the case.

“All the evidence shows that she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs,” he said.

“Twelve people were arrested and seven of them were there for at least 10 days. That was also a serious offence.

“Her psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year.

“This has led me to decide to give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years.”

The 19-year-old was convicted following a trial after recanting a claim that she was raped in a hotel room in July.

The woman has said Cypriot police made her falsely confess to lying about the incident at a hotel – something police have denied.

She had contacted police hours after claiming to have been raped on 17 July at the Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel.

Twelve men were arrested in connection with the allegations but were later freed and returned home, after the woman retracted her claims.

She was later arrested and appeared in court facing charges of public mischief by falsely accusing the group of raping her, to which she pleaded not guilty.

The trial began at the start of October – with the verdict delayed until December.

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