NICOSIA – A documentary about a British teen woman’s claim she was coerced into a confession retracting her claim of being gang raped on Cyprus, leading to her conviction, outraged a lot of viewers who said the film, Believe Me, had them believing her.
Many called for tourists to boycott the island when it reopens after a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus is lifted, although that would likely be too late and with too many restrictions to lure visitors this summer.
She hasn’t been named despite her conviction but was called Emily in the documentary which showed her friends recalling how they found her “crying hysterically surrounded by men.”
Her lawyer Lewis Powers, slammed police failings as a “disgraceful miscarriage of justice,” said the British newspaper The Daily Mail, which added her defense attorney at the trial, Nicoletta Charalambidou, said Cypriots have a culture denying rape.
“How the Cypriot authorities can say they have a strong justice system is beyond me, absolutely disgusting. Hope to God everyone of them “lads” gets what that deserve, sickens me completely,” said another viewer.
Another commented: “I can’t believe in 2020 people are still blaming the victim. I hope this tale destroys the Cyprus tourism industry. I will NEVER visit a country that treats women this way. By giving consent to one person does not mean it’s your fault if you get raped,”
And one wrote: “I can’t imagine what a young girl goes through when she is raped and then bullied by the lawyers of her rapists and threatened with imprisonment in a foreign country.”
“The Cyprus Rape Case is a must seen reminding us that a woman who admits being sexually active on vacation will be considered a w**** by policemen, lawyers and judges. Only innocent virgins are raped, so she could only be a liar for them,” another tweeted.
A young man named only as Jacob, who had been on the trip with her, said how he arrived at the apartment and found her surrounded by the teenagers.
He said: ‘One of them had his arms over her shoulders as if to pull her close, and the two were almost standing either side of her so that she had nowhere to move. So I’ve said, “What are you doing?” and they didn’t reply and started walking away.
“She was crying and I was like, “come on, come on, come with me and I’ll take you downstairs to where we were living.”
Speaking in the documentary about the moment her friend came to their apartment, a woman identified as Becca said: “My friend runs at me, towards me. She was hysterical – I’ve never seen anyone in that kind of state in my life. It was scary. She just collapsed on my bed and was just curled up.
“I just grabbed her and was hugging her and was like, “Just tell me what’s wrong, what’s happened, I can help you, just tell me what happened – did he hurt you?”
‘She was like “yeah” and she said, “yes, but not just him”, and that’s when I put it together and was like, “did they rape you?” and she said, “yes”.’
The woman now insists she was gang raped on Cyprus by Israeli young men said she was forced into the retraction by coercive police interrogation and that the attack was planned, as her lawyers appeal.
She received a four-month suspended sentence and allowed to leave the island in February where she was held from July, 2019 until her trial ended in January amid international attention.
Supported by groups who said they believed her original story, that she was raped, she told the newspaper at that time of her ordeal, which she claimed included being pressured into changing her story while being questioned for hours without a lawyer.
“It’s late and I’ve got a family to go home to,’” she said one police official told her. “‘You’re going to be locked up if you don’t sign this retraction statement.’”
She gave the newspaper a detailed account of what she said happened, saying she met the Israelis, aged 15-21, a few days before the alleged rape when she was having drinks with other young women and the group, which then was about 20, approached them.
“They were drinking designer vodka, clearly trying to impress us,” the woman told the Mail of the events at the resort of Ayia Napa where she said one of them, nicknamed Sam, made a pass and she admitted being interested in having what she called a “holiday fling.”
“On the first day of our holiday romance he was confessing his love for me, telling all his friends how he wanted to marry me and asking me to move to Israel. I wondered if it was Israeli culture to be like that, but it was odd,” she said.
She said they were intimate several more times but she became anxious because his friends were lurking outside and wanted to get into the room where they were. “Looking back, it’s quite obvious I wasn’t in control of the situation; that it was spinning off in the wrong direction,” she said.
She said the rape happened on the day Sam and his friends were to fly back to Israel. “It was definitely pre-meditated,” she told the Mail.