Jan. 7 (UPI) — A British woman convicted of lying about being gang raped by Israeli tourists in Cyprus is allowed to return home after a judge suspended her four-month prison sentence Tuesday.
Cyrus Judge Michalis Papathanasiou said the 19-year-old from Derbyshire, Britain, deserved a second chance even though he considered her crime serious.
The woman had claimed she was raped by as many as a dozen Israeli tourists in her Ayia Napa hotel room last July, but eventually recanted. Her attorney said she withdrew the claim under duress after she was threatened by Cypriot police. She was sentenced last month for making a false accusation.
Defense attorney Lewis Power said she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and her mental health has deteriorated while in Cyprus.
“This girl was stripped both of her dignity and her human rights,” Power said in a statement. “Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless.”
Papathanasiou said at the hearing Tuesday evidence in the case indicated she hadn’t been truthful and that she prevented police from investigating.
“Twelve people were arrested and seven of them were there for at least 10 days,” the judge said. “That was also a serious offense. [Her] psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year [led me to] give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years.”
Female protesters chanted support for the woman outside the courthouse during Tuesday’s hearing.