A British teenager who says she was gang raped by Israeli tourists in a beach resort in Cyprus told a court today that she was forced to sign a retraction by Cypriot police after they wrote it for her.
During a three-hour cross-examination, the 19-year-old said the statement was in such broken English that “there is not one sentence that an English person would write. It does not make grammatical sense.”
“It isn’t in proper English, it’s in Greek English. I'm a very well-educated person, I got into university with an unconditional offer so there’s no way I would write something like this. Marios (the investigating police officer) wanted me to write that I had made it all up."
The teenager repeatedly offered to read out to the court the bad spelling and poor grammar that she said was in the retraction statement, but the judge presiding over the case refused to let her.
The young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed in July that she was raped by up to a dozen Israeli men in a hotel room in the party resort of Ayia Napa, which draws tens of thousands of holidaymakers each summer.
Ten days later she signed a retraction, which her legal team insist was made under duress after she was questioned by Cypriot police for eight hours without a lawyer.
But she is on trial for “causing public mischief” by allegedly fabricating the gang rape claim, with the Israeli men threatening to sue her if she is convicted.
She told the court in Paralimni, a town a few miles from Ayia Napa, that police had promised her that she would be released and allowed to return to the UK if she signed the retraction.
“The officer said he had spoken to the Israelis and he had agreed that they would go home and I would go home and that would be the end of it.”
But instead of being set free she found herself being arrested and taken to a prison in Nicosia, the island’s capital, where she spent more than a month in a cell with other women before being bailed.
Shortly after signing the statement on July 27, she had a panic attack in the police station, brought on by the PTSD that psychologists say she is suffering from as a result of the alleged gang rape.
“I was really, really stressed and I was crying. I was in a state. I was 18 years old and I was suffering from PTSD. I was trapped in there. They made me sign things I didn’t understand,” she said.
She accused one of the investigating officers, Detective Sergeant Marios Christou, of shouting at her and intimidating her.
“He was not going by the law. Immediately I assumed corruption and conspiracy. I would not have put it past him at that moment to have kidnapped me or something. I can 100 per cent say that I was terrified for my life when I was in that police station.”
The young woman, who had come to Cyprus on a working holiday, broke down in tears after the prosecutor, Adamos Demosthenous, accused her of lying to her mother on the night she signed the retraction when she sent a message saying “calm down, I’m OK,” even though she was in deep distress.
The teenager said she had simply tried to avoid alarming her mother, a single parent.
“I said I was OK even though I wasn’t just so she would not freak out,” the British woman told judge Michalis Papathanasiou.
“If your child had just been raped by 12 Israelis and can’t get out of bed in the morning and had a throat so swollen she could hardly breathe and was taken to a police station for eight hours after saying she would only be gone for half an hour, I can tell you, you would be worried about your child.”
The court heard from a British friend of the teenager, who said that on the night of the retraction she received “very alarming” text messages from the alleged rape victim.
“She’s been arrested and they’ve got her to change her statement so it looks like she lied,” the woman, a psychology graduate from Yorkshire, told a mutual friend.
The friend said police had also altered a statement that she gave them.
“(An officer) wrote something in the statement that I didn’t say. It was in reference to how much we had been drinking.”
The 19-year-old faces up to a year in prison if convicted. The Israelis all returned home after being released from custody.
The trial was adjourned until Thursday, when the judge will decide whether to hear video evidence from a British psychologist who is currently in Ireland and who diagnosed the teenager with PTSD.