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On Monday the Supreme Court of Cyprus allowed the appeal of the young British teen who now has had her conviction for ‘lying’ about Cyprus gang rape by 12 Israeli students overturned. This young girl, 18, was thrown in jail for five weeks while her alleged attackers were freed to a heroes’ welcome as prosecutors instead charged the girl with lying to officers. Following a harrowing trial, of which it is now accepted was materially flawed and outrageously unfair rendering the conviction unsafe, the young woman was given a four-month suspended sentence for public mischief last year but the Cyprus Supreme Court has now overturned that ruling, after hearing, inter alia, that the judge ignored expert evidence and did not allow her to present her case. The arguments of the defence, put forward by the crack team of Church Court Barristers ( instructed by Justice Abroad) and their Cypriot Lawyer Counterparts, Nicoletta Charalambidou and Ritsa Pekri, were successful in virtually all their pleaded grounds of appeal.
Lewis Power, QC, states: ‘The Supreme Court of Cyprus have handed down their landmark decision and allowed the appeal of this young woman. In doing so they have quite properly recognised the serious flaws in the investigative and trial process and her unjust treatment. This was the most deplorable of cases in which a myth was created denying the existence of gang rape, a myth which justified the rapists’ behaviour, shifting the blame on to the victim. This is not just a victory and total vindication for the Appellant but for all those woman around the globe who have been both denied and wronged in justice. This case in my view has highlighted the injustice of justice.’
Commenting on the girl’s ordeal, Lewis Power QC added:’ This young lady has had to deal with the most ghastly sexual ordeal, a shoddy Police investigation, an over-bearing trial Judge, imprisonment and strict bail confinement in Cyprus. She has been vilified in social media, yet she has stood firm in her pursuit of justice. Her fortitude, bravery and strength over these past few years has been quite remarkable. Her resilience has been exemplary and she has shown true grit, determination and an unbelievable inner strength and we celebrate her courage. She has had to endure the victim blaming attitude which has oft become entrenched in society and indeed has become institutionalised within many criminal justice jurisdictions.
‘Throughout this case, the old adage came to mind ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced’. This is what this woman has adhered to.
‘We hope today that this ground-breaking decision will send out seismic waves across the world, which we hope will lead to radical legal reform in sexual assault cases and will eradicate injustice where there has been silencing and exclusion.’
Michael Polak has commented to the International Press that the teenager and her female lawyers had been shouted at and “treated with contempt” during the trial. He said : “We have always maintained that our client was not given a fair trial and today the Supreme Court of Cyprus has agreed with us ; Important fair trial provisions, which are in place to prevent miscarriages of justice, were totally disregarded in this case. A young and vulnerable woman was not only mistreated when she reported the rape to the police, but then she was just put through a trial process that was manifestly unfair, as the Supreme Court has recognised.”The defence team are now considering the consequences of this acquittal by the Supreme Court which includes manifestly the failure of the authorities to effectively investigate the rape claims. This is what we will now pursue.
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