The long arc: 3 years on, the Cyprus gang rape case begins to bend the other way

A UK teen convicted of lying about being gang-raped by Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa has cleared her name. Will the truth of what happened in that Cyprus hotel room now prevail?

16 February

Months after she filed a complaint of gang rape from a small 24-hour clinic in a Cyprus resort town, a British teen stood before a courtroom heaving with lawyers and journalists, facing a “public mischief ”charge – a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,700.

Over 10 days in the summer of 2019, Emma (a pseudonym, as her name remains protected,) went from being a rape complainant to a criminal defendant. She had reported being raped in a hotel room in Ayia Napa by a group of Israelis, including a young man she previously had consensual sex with. The police arrested 12 Israeli youths, ranging in age from 15 to 22, who either denied involvement or claimed everything that took place in the hotel room was consensual. Emma, they said, had lied about being raped.

Days later, confronted by police in a six-hour interrogation without legal counsel, Emma signed what she subsequently said was a coerced retraction. The statement said she had made up the rape allegations and had, in fact, willingly engaged in group sex but felt “humiliated” and “embarrassed” when she realized the youths were recording the acts.

Emma was promptly arrested, charged with making false allegations, and prosecuted in a case that would make headlines worldwide.

On January 31, more than two years after a judge convicted her and handed her a four-month suspended sentence, the Supreme Court of Cyprus overturned the ruling.

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