THE devastated mother of a British teen convicted of making up a gang rape story in Cyprus has called for a tourism boycott of the island.
The woman – who can’t be named for legal reasons – said she supported a campaign to shun the holiday spot saying she believes the resort of Ayia Napa is unsafe.
“The place isn’t safe – it is absolutely not safe,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme after labelling the court’s verdict “absolutely astonishing”.
“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,”
The teenager said she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town on July 17.
But she was charged and the dozen young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident, were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
The woman said her daughter is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hallucinations, and is sleeping for up to 20 hours a day because of a condition called hypersomnia.
“She needs to get back to the UK to get that treated – that’s my absolute primary focus.
“She can’t be treated here because hearing foreign men speaking loudly will trigger an episode.
“It needs resolving otherwise she’s going to carry on having this for the rest of her life,” the woman said.
She said her daughter had planned to go to university this year after being accepted for the courses she applied for and being offered a bursary at one institute.
“So, no question, she would have gone to university, but it was in a career that she wouldn’t be able to do with this ‘public mischief’ verdict, so – again, life-changing for her – she needs to totally rethink her options.”
A crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal support for her daughter has passed £80,000.
The “help teen victim get justice in Cyprus” GoFundMe page was set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to raise cash for the 19-year-old’s legal representation.
The teenager claimed in court she was raped but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.
The Foreign Office said the UK was “seriously concerned” about the fairness of the woman’s trial and it is understood officials have raised the “deeply distressing case” with the Cypriot authorities.
Her mother said she would “definitely” like the British government to intervene in the case.
She told Radio 4: “I would love the Foreign Secretary to get involved, that would be fantastic.”
She said they will be appealing against the verdict “without question” and hoped the FCO could help them progress the case to the Cypriot Supreme Court.
She added: “Unfortunately there’s quite a long waiting list, so our lawyers are looking at what could be done to expedite that.
“That’s something maybe the Foreign Office can help us with.”
Lawyers and campaigners criticised the justice system after she was convicted of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni, on Monday.
There are now reports some of those originally accused of the attack have friends in high places.
While the boys’ identities have not been released because they were minors at the time, some of their parents appear to be close to the Israeli establishment, it’s claimed.
One of their fathers is even an adviser to an important mayor, reports the Times.
It reports there is now the impression that the 12 had at least some backing from powerful figures.
However, the government of Cyprus has said it has “full confidence in the justice system and the courts”.
The country’s attorney general said on Tuesday that he could not suspend the trial because she had levelled “grave accusations” against police investigators that had to be adjudicated in court.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said he believed the woman had made false allegations because she felt “embarrassed” after realising she had been filmed having sex in a video found on mobile phones.
The woman has been on bail since the end of August, after spending a month in prison, and could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine when she is sentenced on January 7.