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British foreign minister urges Cyprus to ‘do the right thing’

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

Britain’s foreign secretary on Sunday urged Cyprus to “do the right thing” over the case of the British teenager convicted this week of lying about being gang-raped in Ayia Napa.

Dominic Raab said Cyprus was “sensitive” about interference, but added the woman’s sentencing on Tuesday was “firmly on my radar”.

He also told the BBC he had spoken to the woman’s mother and offered support.

The British teen was convicted on Monday of public mischief after she withdrew a claim that she had been gang raped by 12 Israelis in the summer in the party resort.

She has said she retracted the statement under pressure from the police to do so after she was questioned for hours by police without a lawyer.

The UK had previously said it was “seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees” for her.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, Raab said he had conveyed his “very serious concerns” about her treatment by the Cyprus authorities to his Cypriot counterpart.

He said the teenager had gone through a “terrible ordeal” and that he had spoken to her mother on Friday “to see what further support we could provide”.

The minister said it was his priority to get the woman back to the UK to start her recovery.

The case has caused a backlash in the UK and other places where a boycottCyprus hashtag has gained traction.

Asked whether the Foreign Office would advise tourists against visiting Cyprus, Raab said it always keeps its travel advice “under review”.

Speaking earlier on Sky, he said the teenager’s case must be handled “sensitively to make sure we don’t do anything counter-productive”.

Asked what he would do if he felt there has been a miscarriage of justice, Raab added: “We don’t control the Cypriot justice system… but there are clear questions around the due process, the fair trial, safeguards that have applied in this case.”

On Saturday the government repeated that it would not interfere.

“It [involvement] would mean that we do not recognise and respect the judgement of the authorities. It would mean we have a government that intervenes and potentially guides our courts. This does not happen,” said government spokesman Kyriacos Koushios.

Asked if the British government had been in contact with Cyprus over the controversial guilty verdict, Koushios said the UK had not communicated with the government. The only official announcement was last Monday when the British Foreign Office said it was concerned over the verdict, he said.

 

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