Cyprus Mail

UK media blitz over verdict against British teen

The teenager arriving at one of her court hearings

THE case of the British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Ayia Napa by 12 Israeli men, has been the main news story in the UK since the verdict was issued by Famagusta district court on Monday.

It was the lead story on the main, BBC and ITV television news on Monday, a Foreign Office spokesman expressing serious concern about the “fair trial guarantees” in the case of the 19-year-old and saying the issue would be raised with the Cypriot authorities.

All the newspapers, including the broadsheets, gave big prominence to the story for three successive days, with extensive reports on background and reaction, editorial comment and suggestions that Cyprus was concerned with upsetting Israel, 12 nationals of which had been detained in connection with the case.

The BBC’s flagship news affairs station, Radio Four covered the story both on its news shows and on Woman’s Hour, while on New Year’s Day it carried a brief interview with Cypriot lawyer Dr Kypros Chrysostomides, who expressed sympathy for the British teenager, who has been held in Cyprus for five months, questioned the wisdom of the legal procedure followed.

Radio Four also carried an interview with the mother of the teenager on New Year’s Day, in which she was scathing about the way her daughter had been treated, questioned the validity of the statement the police claimed she had given of her own volition, and backed the online campaign to boycott Cyprus as a tourism destination.

“The place isn’t safe,” she said, something that has become a recurring theme of the reports in the UK media. “The case has raised grave concerns for the safety of female tourists on the island, which attracts more than a million British holidaymakers each year,” wrote The Telegraph.

The Daily Mail reporter that had been covering the case for five months, wrote: “At times the proceedings were so shambolic and the court’s bullish judge so animated it would have been comical had it not been so concerning. I lost count of the times I was left deeply disturbed by district judge Michalis Papathansiou’s frequent aggressive outbursts.”

On Thursday it was a lead story in The Times, which reported that “lawyers in both countries called on President Anastasiades to pardon the 19-year-old woman and have criticized the conduct of her trial, telling The Times that it should never have gone ahead.”

In a comment carried by The Guardian on New Year’s Eve, Joan Smith wrote: “The message to foreign women thinking of booking a holiday in Cyprus could hardly be starker: if you are attacked don’t expect the authorities to help you.”

The negative publicity for Cyprus was unrelenting and is set to resume next Tuesday when the judge passes sentence.


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