A British woman convicted for falsely claiming she had been gang raped by 12 Israeli teens in Cyprus two years ago has filed an appeal to the island's Supreme Court, seeking to clear her name.
The woman, then aged 19, filed a complaint in July 2019 that she had been raped by a group of Israeli youths in Ayia Napa. She later withdrew her accusation on January 2020, which led to her conviction for public mischief and a suspended four-month prison sentence.
Lawyers for the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and prosecutors presented their arguments on before a three-bench Supreme Court in Nicosia, which is expected to issue a ruling within six months.
She maintains she withdrew her complaint under duress after hours of police questioning and without a lawyer present.
"The case is a seminal one for the protection of human rights in Cyprus, as well as the treatment of those who report sexual offences," said Michael Polack, director of the UK-based Justice Abroad advocacy group assisting a local defense team.
"It is of the utmost importance for the woman involved to have her unjust conviction overturned," he said in a statement issued later.
Polak said the conviction could "prevent her from applying for certain jobs and is a constant reminder of what happened to her".
The twelve Israeli youths were detained for questioning but were swiftly released after the woman withdrew her accusation.
They were not required to give any evidence at the woman's trial because the case focused on whether the woman had mislead authorities and given a false statement, rather than the alleged rape itself.
The British government later said it had "numerous concerns" about the judicial process and the woman's right to a fair trial. The woman was not present at Thursday's process.