British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has conveyed “very serious concerns” about the treatment of a young woman, 19, by Cypriot authorities after she was convicted of lying about being gang-raped by 12 Israeli males in Aya Napa.
Mr Raap told the BBC on Sunday that the Cypriots have been informed of his government’s concerns. “We have registered our concerns in crystal clear terms. Equally the Cypriots are very sensitive about political interference in that case so we will encourage them to do the right thing in the right way,” he said.
The girl’s psychologist, Dr Christine Tizzard, has expressed fears that the student will be at a heightened risk of suicide if she is jailed during her sentencing on Tuesday, the Sunday Times reported. She said that the teenager is in need of mental health care and her condition is “getting worse every day”.
Dr Tizzard assessed the teenager for the defence during 10 Skype and phone calls and found that she fulfilled all the criteria of PTSD, including experiencing nightmares and suicidal thoughts.
Cyprus has faced condemnation for its handling of the case, and much of the bruising on the woman’s body was dismissed as evidence and she had been interrogated for hours without access to a lawyer. Some protesters are calling for a tourism boycott of Cyprus, which they say is unsafe for women travellers.
In an op-ed in the Guardian, Joan Smith, chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board wrote: “The message to foreign women thinking of booking a holiday in Cyprus could hardly be more stark. If you are attacked, don’t expect the authorities to help you.”
In Israel, the 12 boys aged between 16-19 years, had initially been welcomed back as heroes though three of them admitted to having sex with the then 18-year-old British girl while others admitted to watching and filming the spectacle on their phones. They had returned to Israel cracking open bottles of champagne and chanting: “The Brit is a whore.”
Yona Golub, one of the Israeli teens involved in the case, claimed that the British teen had turned his life in a nightmare. He caused outrage when he told the Mail that he would pursue the teenager through the courts for compensation. “We’re preparing to sue her,” he said. “She deserves to go to jail.”
His comments caused outrage. Forty Israelis will fly to Cyprut to show their solidarity with the British teenager when she is sentenced on Tuesday.
The woman, who is now facing up to a year in prison after a hearing last week, says she retracted her statement about the alleged rape after pressure from detectives following ten hours of questioning that was not recorded or conducted in front of a lawyer.
This week, two top Israeli journalists described how they had travelled to Cyprus to interview the British girl on numerous occasions and are convinced she is telling the truth. “She was raped without question,” journalist Orly Vinai told viewers. “We met a wonderful young woman whose trauma was loud and clear in almost all her behaviour.”
Other scathing editorials have called for a reflection on how far Israeli society has plummeted.