NICOSIA – A British teenager appealing her conviction for lying about being gang-raped on Cyprus has said she had nightmares about “being raped again” every night while in prison, lost 35 pounds and had to be given anti-depression medication while jailed more than a month.
The woman, who still hasn’t been named despite the conviction which legally means she wasn’t the victim of a sex crime, said the drug Xanax she was given by prison doctors made her hallucinate, the British newspaper The Sun reported.
She returned home after being given a four-month suspended sentence in a Cyprus court which found she fabricated claims 12 Israeli teens took turns raping her after she had agreed to consensual sex with one of them, police saying she turned on them because the act was being videotaped.
In her first full interview since returning to the United Kingdom, she told the Sun: “Most prisoners were drugged. It seemed they thought that was easier. It gave me horribly vivid dreams, hallucinations.”
She added that while sharing a cell with eight other women at Nicosia prison, she “didn’t eat much at all” and became severely thin while suffering from PTSD. In extracts from a prison diary, she wrote: “I have nightmares every night, I dream I’m being raped again.
“The doctors prescribe me drugs, I take them in the morning, at lunch and finally at night,” she added, the paper said.
She was found guilty after recanting her claim of rape, a decision she said was forced by an aggressive police interrogation under duress, without a lawyer or translator and after eight hours of being grilled.
During the newspaper interview, in which the woman described crawling “like a crab across a floor” to escape, she added she had felt “mixed emotions” upon returning home with her lawyers still wanting to clear her name and as she has had legions of supporters.
“We’ve reached this milestone of getting back to the UK so I can begin to feel safe again but then we’ve got this whole other aspect which is just so much bigger, that the case isn’t finished,” she said.
She added that it was “horrendous” that she still had to live with her conviction, saying that “it definitely feels like I’m still fighting”.
Almost $200,000 has since been raised through crowdfunding to pay for her legal representation with her backers, including women’s groups and lawyers – on Cyprus too – saying they believe her story.
She was on a working holiday at the Cypriot incident of Ayia Napa in July, 2019 before being due to return home to study a criminology course at a British university last September but as her ordeal extended until this year.