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Cyprus

Family ‘live in hope’ as teenager accused of lying about being raped faces trial

File photo: the teen being taken for a previous court appearance

The family of a British teenager accused of lying about being gang-raped by a group of Israeli tourists have said they “live in hope” as she faces trial.

The 19-year-old woman, who cannot be identified, and who is appearing in court on Tuesday, denies causing public mischief by allegedly making a false claim that she was attacked in an Ayia Napa hotel room on July 17.

She retracted her statement 10 days later and the 12 young Israeli men who were arrested returned home after their release.

Her lawyers say she was pressured by police to change her statement, but Cypriot authorities strongly deny the retraction was coerced, saying that she volunteered it in writing.

The teenager spent four-and-a-half weeks in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August, but cannot leave the island, which is popular with British holidaymakers.

Her family has set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has raised more than £36,000.

In an online post, they said: “We live in hope that it will be resolved in this time. Thanks to all of you for making this possible.”

If the woman is found guilty, she could face up to a year in jail and a €1,700 fine.

She is expected to give evidence during the trial, which is listed for three days this week.

Human rights and feminist groups last week urged Cyprus’ attorney general to dismiss the case and her legal team will ask Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to exclude her retraction statement.

She maintains she was raped by members of the Israeli group and her lawyers say police exerted pressure by threatening her and her friends with arrest when she was interrogated without a lawyer until 2am.

At a hearing earlier this month the court heard one of the Israelis had told police in a statement the group had earlier talked about having sex with her in a “very bad and aggressive way”.

Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad, has previously said the teenager, who missed out on her place at university, has been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

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