The trial of a 19 year old British woman at the centre of a rape claim allegation was postponed until August 19 after her lawyer withdrew from the case, philenews reports.
The woman, who faces a charge of public mischief for making a false allegation, appeared before Famagusta District Court today but the trial was adjourned after her lawyer Andreas Pittadjis said he was withdrawing because of differences with his client.
The woman will remain in police custody until the trial and pending the appointment of a new lawyer. She has not yet entered a plea.
Wednesday’s hearing came two days after the Sun reported that the 19 year old woman was pressured into retracting her allegation that she had been gang raped by 12 Israelis.
Police have denied the claims and say the woman had made a voluntary statement.
The woman has been in police custody for eight days. The charge of public mischief carries a sentence of up to one year in jail or a fine of €1700.
On Monday, the Sun newspaper ran an exclusive report saying the woman had contacted friends to say that police had pressured her into retracting her statement.
It said that the woman claimed the police dictated her statement and threatened to arrest her friends for conspiracy if she did not sign it.
The woman had initially filed a complaint that she had been gang raped by 12 Israeli youths at a hotel in Ayia Napa.
The 12 youths were arrested and remanded in custody – five were released five days later and the other seven after spending some 10 days in custody after police found nothing incriminating against them
They have all returned to Israel.
The Sun said that British barrister Michael Polak, backed by an ex-Foreign Office diplomat and former Detective Superintendent David Swindle, have taken up the fight to clear her name.
Polak, of campaign group Justice Abroad, told The Sun: “The confession was obtained under oppression given the threats made. She was not cautioned and was not given access to a lawyer as was her right under the European Convention on Human rights.
“Further, the teenager was not told she could leave the police station nor given the option of leaving at any point.
“It is also understood that unfortunately none of the proceedings at the Cypriot police station were recorded.”
According to the British tabloid, the girl sent a frantic message to friends that broke off mid-sentence.
According to the Sun the woman went to the police voluntarily after police asked for a second statement but there found herself accused of inventing the attack.
It adds that the woman said she had held out against signing the dictated confession but eventually gave in. She was charged at 2.30 am.
But a police spokesman told Phileleftheros that the woman had voluntarily asked to make a second statement retracting what she had stated in the first one she had given.
Andreou said police had handled the investigation with professionalism from the beginning, and any claims to the contrary were unfounded.
He also queried how the 19 year old could have given her friends such information, given that her mobile telephone had been taken away as soon as she was arrested.
Police had said that the woman had told them she had had consensual sex but became upset when she found out that she had been filmed without consent.
A grainy sex recording from the night of the alleged attack was also leaked to the Israeli media.