Cyprus Mail
Opinion Our View

Our View: Cyprus keeps shooting itself in the foot

The teenager arriving at one of her court hearings

THE actions of the authorities in Cyprus, who seem to think they are still living in the middle of the last century, never cease to bring the island into disrepute, whether it be money laundering, golden passports, widespread corruption, animal abuse and now the Ayia Napa rape case, which is killing tourism from its main market at a crucial time for bookings.

In some respects, there is a perception that we are living in a bubble where we can act with impunity and not be found out, even after 15 years as an EU member and the transformation of the world into a global village of instant communication and equally swift retribution.

That, of course, is not the real issue here but a consequence. The truth of the alleged rape of the British teen by 12 Israelis lies with those who were in the hotel room that night. Ditto on the night the rape claim was retracted when only the woman and police interrogators were in the room.

Though the rape allegation itself was not adjudicated, the case hinging on the retraction, there are serious questions as to whether due process was followed, and also whether the prosecution’s case was proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Without getting into the many discrepancies due to space constraints, what is worth asking is why the young woman ended up in a room with male officers and was kept there for eight hours – well into the night – without any legal representation, which resulted in a ‘voluntary’ confession that she had lied about the rape.

Even if she were lying about the rape, the fact that it took eight hours to squeeze a confession out of her means there was duress, and that in itself raises reasonable doubt. It means she was not willing to confess until she was worn down by questioning. So guilty or not, there is no doubt that pressure was brought to bear and a reasonable case to be made that innocent people also confess to things they did not do in such circumstances, and especially someone that young.

Police and others might find these tactics justified if they had already proved there had been no rape, but this was not the case and was not part of the trial. Instead, their closing of the rape case was based on a retraction that is suspect on the face of it.

Did each of the 12 Israeli boys get an eight-hour overnight grilling to get to the truth? Police did not even secure their communications data apparently. Why not? No police interviews were recorded either as we know that could have determined the truth.

This is reminiscent of the serial killer case and the failure to properly investigate the prior missing persons reports. It is symptomatic of the tendency in Cyprus to do the expedient thing and not the right thing. And so we keep on shooting ourselves in the foot and then wonder why there is a call for a boycott when the truth is, this is a safe country, a lot safer than many others.


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