British teen says Cyprus cops forced her to retract gang rape claim against Israelis
A British teen accused of fabricating rape claims against a group of Israeli youths at a holiday resort in Cyprus said Tuesday that she feared for her life after “aggressive” investigators forced her to sign a retraction, according to a report.
The 19-year-old, who has denied falsely claiming that a dozen Israelis raped her in a hotel room in the resort of Ayia Napa, told a court that she was grilled for eight hours without a lawyer present, the UK’s Telegraph reported.
Authorities have accused the unidentified woman of making up the story because she was embarrassed that she had been caught on video having sex with at least one of the Israelis.
She denied that Tuesday, insisting that she had been raped and saying that she had been put under intense pressure to sign the retraction.
Investigators told her that unless she did so, “the next time I see my mum I will be in handcuffs in a courtroom,” she told the court in the town of Paralimni.
The woman has pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing public mischief. If convicted, she could face up to one year in prison and a fine of about $1,850.
She initially alleged that the Israelis, ages 15 to 18, raped her on July 17.
The Israelis were later released after she was arrested on suspicion of “making a false statement about an imaginary crime,” according to Cypriot police.
While being interrogated, she testified Tuesday, she sent frantic messages to friends and family while hiding her cellphone under a table.
“I told my friend I was scared for my life,” the teen, wearing black pants and a black top, told the court.
“It was really in your face,” she said about the intense questioning, which lasted until 2 a.m. “I was crying and I didn’t understand what was going on. An officer kept asking me to say that there wasn’t a rape. They became very aggressive.
“I said, ‘I did not make it up, I have been raped.’ I said, ‘I want to talk to my mum,’ but he said ‘No,’” she said.
Her repeated requests to call an attorney were rejected, she told the court.
“I said, ‘I know my rights and I know I have a right to a lawyer.’ The police officer said, ‘Maybe that’s what happens in the UK, but not in Cyprus,’” she said, adding that officers threatened to arrest her friends unless she signed the retraction.
She ultimately signed the statement, in which she wrote that on the night of the alleged sexual assault, she was “quite drunk.”
“I was messaging my friends, saying the police officer had forced me to sign a false statement. I was really scared. I didn’t think I’d leave the police station unless I signed the statement,” she said Tuesday.
She said she also sent a message to her mother, asking her to call the British High Commission in Nicosia and British authorities “as soon as possible.”
Investigators told her they had obtained footage of her having sex with at least one of the Israelis.
“They said they had videos from the night, showing me having consensual group sex. I stood up, I said: ‘This can’t be true.’ I asked to see the videos,” she said.
“(The officer) said that was not possible but that he had studied them and he said it was very clear there was no rape,” she said.
One of her lawyers, Michael Polak, said: “All these messages clearly show the pressure that was being placed on her on all different fronts.”
Police insisted that the woman concocted the story of the gang rape when they told her about the video.
“She felt embarrassed and exposed because she had been recorded on video,” Detective Sgt. Marios Christou, who questioned her that night, told the court.
He said he pressed the young woman on why she might have made up the gang rape account, to which she reportedly responded: “Because they were videoing me. I felt embarrassed and insulted.”
The teen’s mother told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday: “It’s great that her side of the story is finally being heard.”
Source: Read Full Article