Lawyers for British woman cleared of lying about gang rape in Cyprus are taking case to European Court of Human Rights after police ruled out fresh hunt for her attackers
- EXCLUSIVE: Lawyers plan to take a Cyprus gang rape case to the ECHR
- It follows authorities in Cyprus ruling out a new investigation into the attack
- A British woman was accused of lying and received a suspended sentence
- Her conviction was overturned and she had hoped the case would be reopened
Lawyers for a British woman cleared of lying about a gang rape are taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights after authorities ruled out a fresh hunt for her attackers.
The 21-year-old university student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went from victim to accused following her harrowing ordeal on the island of Cyprus in July 2019 when she was targeted by up to 12 men.
Police in the resort of Ayia Napa initially held a group of Israeli tourists in connection with the attack but they were later released and the woman was charged with ‘public mischief’ and accused of making the attack up.
In 2020 she was given a four-month suspended jail sentence but after an appeal, the conviction was quashed in February but the landmark victory has turned sour after the Cyprus Attorney General ruled out a new investigation.
The woman and her legal team had been hoping police would reopen the case and she would get justice but they have been left disappointed at the decision and have now taken the fight to the ECHR in Strasbourg.
Lawyers for a British woman (pictured outside court in 2020), who said up to 12 men gang raped her in Cyprus in 2019, plan to take her case to the European Court of Human rights
British lawyer Michael Polak (pictured in 2021) said it is ‘only fair that an investigation by an independent objective investigator should take place’
Her lawyer Michael Polak QC, from campaign group Justice Abroad, exclusively told MailOnline: ‘The Court of Appeal in Cyprus ruled her initial conviction was unsafe and it was set aside.
‘The girl and her family had hoped that this would lead authorities in Cyprus to reinvestigate the case so justice could be done but they have decided not to do so and that has left us disappointed.
‘The Attorney General’s decision comes following the success of our client’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Cyprus where that Court not only set out the many legal failures in the case against her but also covered the procedural failures in the investigation of her rape complaint.
‘In Cyprus, the decision of the Attorney General to initiate or discontinue criminal prosecutions is not subject to any appeal or review. As such, there are no domestic remedies available to the our client to challenge the Attorney General’s decision not to order a proper investigation into the rape complaint.’
Mr Polak explained their submission to the ECHR would argue the woman’s rights under Article 3, 6, and 8 of the Convention were breached in that the probe of the original offence was so poor as to amount to a breach of the Cyprus’s obligation to properly investigate and prosecute sexual crimes.
He added:’ It was clear that his case was replete with investigatory failures, and it is only fair that an investigation by an independent objective investigator should take place.
The British woman who had her conviction quashed at the start of the year. She had previously received a suspended sentence accused of making false claims that she was gang raped
Lawyer Michael Polak, background, is seen as protesters hold banners in support of a British woman, outside of Cyprus’ Supreme Court in the capital Nicosia on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022
‘Under the European Convention on Human Rights there is a right to have sexual offences properly investigated and this has been breached by the Attorney General’s decision not to order an investigation following the Supreme Court’s ruling which found in favour of our client and held that there were numerous failure I n the original investigation as well as abject misunderstanding of the evidence in the case.
‘Further, it is an anomaly for the decision maker, in this case the Attorney General, to be able to make a decision not to investigate in a case such as this and for that decision to be unchallengeable in the domestic courts. This is contrary to the rule of law and a father breach of our of client’s right to a fair hearing in the determination of her rights.
‘We remain determined to achieve justice for our client in this case and to cause changed which would mean that victims of sexual offences are dealt with fairly in the Republic of Cyprus in the future. This remains an elusive goal and as far as we are aware the Government of Cyprus has failed to carry out any review of positive changes to protect victims of sexual offices since the Supreme Court delivered its strong judgement in January 2022.
‘We are confident that the European Court will find in our favour and we continue to encourage the Attorney General to review his decision in this case.’
Pictured, the bedroom where the alleged rape took place. She was branded a liar, charged with fabricating the rape, coerced into retracting her accusation and — as she awaited trial for the offence of causing public mischief — thrown into jail for five weeks
Her case made headlines around the world after it emerged she had been questioned overnight without a lawyer or translator and then made to sign a statement in Greek withdrawing her claims.
The woman’s subsequent court case was then a shambolic stop-start farce and she was often reduced to tears after the judge and prosecutors shouted over her and her legal team, barely giving her a change to speak or present their evidence fairly before she was found guilty in January 2020.
In Israel, the overturning of her conviction made headlines news, with media welcoming he decision and asking: ‘Will the boys now go on trial, or will we never find the truth ?’
The men in question are now all nearing the end of their National Service and their lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh said:’ The Supreme Court of Cyprus overturned the conviction due to flaws in the conduct of the trial by the District Court.
‘This does not mean that my clients committed any offences against the complainant. There is nothing in this to prove that, God forbid, my clients performed what was attributed to them thus I’m not at all worried about the future to come.’
A spokesperson for the attorney General’s Office in Cyprus declined to comment and would only say:’ The Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus has communicated their decision to the lawyer of the British woman. Taking this into consideration we cannot officially comment any further.’
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