Cyprus’ Supreme Court on Monday overturned the conviction of a British woman for making allegations that a group of Israeli tourists raped her in a hotel room in Cyprus.
In 2019, less than two weeks after the woman reported to Cypriot police that up to ten Israeli tourists had raped her, She was arrested on a false charge. Her case attracted widespread attention in the British and Israeli media, and she was convicted He was given a four-month suspended prison sentence.
Louis Bauer, the woman’s attorney, said in an interview Monday that the decision was a watershed moment for victims of sexual assault and that his client had been given the justice she deserved. He said the Supreme Court ruled that errors in the woman’s trial were reason enough to overturn her conviction.
He said the woman, who was 18 when she first went to the police, and her family were “very pleased” and relieved by the decision.
Mr. Bauer said the local Cypriot police botched the initial investigation and that he would pressure them to re-investigate her rape allegations. He said that his client had no access to a lawyer while she was being questioned by the police and that authorities pressured her to withdraw her allegations.
He said neither the woman nor the defendants were named because of their age and the restrictions on the press put in place by the Cypriot government.
According to Mr. Bauer, the woman says she was on a romantic vacation with one of the Israeli men, whom she met at the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa. She said she agreed to go back to his hotel room, but soon after they arrived, his friends walked in and took turns raping her.
Nir Yaslovich, a lawyer who represented several of the Israelis accused in the case, said in a statement Monday: “My clients stand behind the claim that the complaint against them was a false one, and therefore my clients are not bothered by the court ruling in Cyprus. The fact that the court accepted the appeal indicates deficiencies in her trial, not that my clients are guilty.”
Yaniv Habari, an Israeli lawyer based in Cyprus who also represented some of the Israelis involved, said in a phone interview that he had not seen police in Cyprus reopen the rape case in light of Monday’s ruling.
“The verdict does not mean that she was raped or that she was not raped, or that her testimony was credible or unreliable,” Habbari said of Monday’s decision. “The Supreme Court justices did not overturn the verdict on the grounds that she was raped, but simply on the grounds that she did not get a fair trial.”
In 2019, Mr. Yaslovic told news media that videos taken by at least one Israeli contradicted the accused’s account. He said that when investigators confronted her with the video and other inconsistencies in her testimony, she was unable to provide any explanation.
After the initial allegations were made in 2019, lawyers for three of the detained Israelis said DNA tests indicated that their clients had had some form of sexual contact with the woman. Their clients said the meeting was consensual. It was not clear how or whether the other nine Israeli suspects were involved.
The case attracted widespread attention from the media and women’s rights organizations, who expressed outrage at the way police handled and treated the woman’s allegations during the investigation. In Israel, much of the reaction centered on the issue Fears of victim exposure and societal pressures on young people to prove their manliness.