Ayia Napa: Raab urges Cyprus to 'do the right thing' in case of British teenager

The woman covered her face as she arrived to hear the verdict Image copyright AFP
Image caption She was convicted following a trial after recanting a claim that she was raped in a hotel room in July.

The foreign secretary has urged Cyprus to "do the right thing" in the case of a British teenager convicted of lying about being gang-raped in Ayia Napa.

Dominic Raab said Cyprus was "sensitive" about interference, but added the woman's sentencing on 7 January was "firmly on my radar".

He also told the BBC he had spoken to the woman's mother and offered support.

The 19-year-old was convicted after she recanted a claim that she was raped by 12 Israelis in a hotel on 17 July.

The UK previously said it was "seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees" for the woman.

And speaking to the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, Mr Raab revealed he had conveyed his "very serious concerns" about her treatment by the Cypriot authorities to his opposite number on the island.

He said the teenager had gone through a "terrible ordeal" and that he had spoken to her mother on Friday "to see what further support we could provide".

He added it was his priority to get the woman back to the UK to start her recovery.

The Cypriot government previously responded to criticism by saying it had "full confidence in the justice system and the courts".

Asked whether the Foreign Office would advise tourists against visiting Cyprus, Mr Raab said it always keeps its travel advice "under review".

Earlier, he told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that the teenager's case must be handled "sensitively to make sure we don't do anything counter-productive".

Asked what he would do if he felt there has been a miscarriage of justice, Mr Raab added: "We don't control the Cypriot justice system...but there are clear questions around the due process, the fair trial, safeguards that have applied in this case."

The teenager could face up to a year in jail and a £1,500 fine on Tuesday, but her lawyers have asked for a suspended sentence.

Image caption Dominic Raab was speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show

The teenager first contacted Cypriot police in July, hours after she claims she was raped by 12 Israeli youths in a room at the Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in Ayia Napa.

The 12 were arrested but later freed and returned home after she retracted her claims 10 days later.

She was then arrested and later appeared in court facing charges of public mischief, to which she pleaded not guilty.

The woman has since said Cypriot police made her falsely confess to lying about the incident - something police have denied.

She was found guilty on a charge of causing public mischief on 30 December.

The conviction has attracted criticism from women's groups and human rights campaigners.

Protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women protested outside the court on the day of the teenager's conviction.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protesters from the Network Against Violence Against Women were outside the court

The woman's lawyers have also criticised the conviction and the way the case was handled by the Cypriot police and Judge Michalis Papathanasiou.

They pledged to appeal against it and plan to take her case to the Cyprus Supreme Court.

Senior legal figures in Cyprus later signed a letter written to the Attorney General Costas Clerides asking him to intervene in the case, including former justice minister Kypros Chrysostomides.

Mr Chrysostomides said the teenager had "already suffered a lot" and he expects her sentence will be "very lenient".

He added: "She has already been in detention for four and a half weeks and she has already been prevented from travelling for about five months already."

The woman's mother said her daughter was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, hallucinations, and was sleeping for 18 or 20 hours a day because of a condition called hypersomnia.

She said the teenager urgently needs to return to the UK to get treatment.

The woman's mother said she believed her daughter's experience in Ayia Napa was not an isolated incident, and backed an online campaign for tourists to boycott the island.

She told the BBC: "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."

Meanwhile, one of the men accused of taking part in the gang-rape, Yona Golub, told the Mail On Sunday that the group were "preparing to sue" the teenager.

He said the group "deserve compensation for what we went through".