World News

UK's Raab raises concerns with Cyprus about Briton found guilty of gang rape lie

LONDON (Reuters) - British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday he had raised concerns with his Cypriot counterpart about the treatment of a British woman found guilty by a court in Cyprus of lying about being gang-raped by a group of Israeli youths.

Last month a district court ruled that the woman, aged 19 at the time, had lied about being sexually assaulted by 12 Israeli teenagers at the holiday resort of Ayia Napa in July. She is due to be sentenced on Jan. 7 and faces up to one year in jail.

“There are clear questions around the due process and the fair trial safeguards that have applied in this case, I have raised those with my Cypriot opposite number,” Raab told Sky News. In a separate interview with the BBC he said he had “very serious concerns” about her treatment.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested after she withdrew an accusation that the teenagers had raped her in a hotel room.

She maintained that she had recanted her accusation under duress from police, during persistent questioning without a lawyer present. Prosecutors and the court dismissed that justification.

“My first priority and I think the first priority of the family will be to see this young lady released, come home safe and sound to this country to allow her to recover,” Raab said.

Raab also said he had also spoken to the woman’s mother, who has called for holidaymakers to boycott Cyprus. Britain accounted for a third of the 3.9 million tourists who visited Cyprus in 2018.

Asked by the BBC whether he would advise British people not to go to Cyprus if the woman is jailed, Raab said: “We always keep our travel advice under review.”

“We have registered our concerns in crystal clear terms. Equally the Cypriots are every sensitive about political interference in that case so we will encourage them to do the right thing in the right way,” he said.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky