Jamie Doran, an EMMY award-winning filmmaker has had access for weeks to the British teenager who alleges that she was forced by police to retract her accusation of gang rape by up to 12 Israelis who were holidaying in Cyprus prior to joining the military
By Jamie Doran
A young woman stares out from the south coast of Cyprus, wondering when, and if, she will finally be allowed to leave these shores and return to her home in England. She is, according to her mother and the international legal team representing her, the victim of a ploy to allow her alleged attackers to return home, leaving her as the guilty party.
Believing she was merely being invited into a police station to confirm her original statement, the teenager underwent around eight hours of what she described as ‘aggressive’ interrogation without a lawyer or family member present. She had asked for a lawyer, only to be told, she claims, that the police interrogator said: “Maybe that’s what happens in the UK, but not in Cyprus.”
In the end, under the threat by police that they would issue international arrest warrants for her own friends, she signed the retraction statement which, she says, was dictated to her. And it is that retraction statement that sits at the very core of this case.
Later this morning, in the court at Paralimni, a linguistics expert will dissect her alleged retraction, stating that key parts would never have been written or said by a native English speaker.
Defence lawyers have previously said that much of the retraction had been written in poor or ‘pidgin’ English, with numerous grammatical errors, including blatant spelling mistakes. Significantly, the 19-year-old herself had received three unconditional offers from universities to study Criminology, prior to travelling to Cyprus for what was intended to be a working holiday. In the words of her QC, speaking soon after she had given evidence: “In 28 years at the Bar, I have never come across a more credible witness”.
I have been with the girl and her mother for much of the court proceedings in the process of making a documentary. The trauma has taken an immense toll on them both; of that there can be no doubt. It would have been easier, perhaps, simply to have pled guilty in the expectation of a soft sentence and a fine. After all, she is only accused of the crime of ‘Public Nuisance’. But that would have been a step too far for them, which would then have ensured that the original alleged perpetrators of the rape would go on to live their lives in the certainty that their own names would never be blighted.
The law can sometimes seem unfair to those who seek justice. And it is true to say that the Cypriot judicial system has come under great criticism as we have discovered in our research. But I remain convinced not only of this girl’s total innocence, but also that two very determined women will never allow this case to rest until that justice is served.
And when that happens, just who was it who spoke those words in ‘pidgin’ English?