A British teenager who avoided jail after she was found guilty of lying about being gang-raped by 12 Israeli men has landed back in the United Kingdom – as she insists ‘I am innocent’ and vows ‘the fight will go on to clear my name’.
The 19-year-old from Derbyshire, who MailOnline has decided not to name, flew into London’s Heathrow Airport on a British Airways flight from Larnaca, Cyrpus shortly after 10pm.
The traumatised youngster and her parents were given special treatment and were allowed to leave the plane first and exit via the airport’s VIP lounge, as they were ushered through the airport by UK police.
The teenager was finally allowed to leave Cyprus after a judge gave her a four-month suspended sentence after convicting her of lying.
Her arrival back in the UK ends her rape and police ordeal that led her to spend five weeks in jail and almost five months under house arrest.
Cypriot authorities finally handed her passport back today enabling her to leave the country.
Speaking ahead of her flight home, the woman, who insists she is innocent, said ‘my fight goes on’ adding that the experience has been a ‘nightmare’ and that she now wants to spend time with her family and friends.
The 19 year old was photographed before she was due to board a British Airways flight with her mother from Larnaca airport in Cyprus and was mobbed by supporters who had earlier chanted for her release outside the court room
The teenager, from Derbyshire, has been stuck on the island after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17 (she is pictured preparing to leave Cyprus)
There were touching scenes at the entrance to the airport terminal when the teen was met by her supporters (she is pictured as she prepares to fly back to the UK)
The girl and her mum had hoped to catch an earlier flight back to the UK but were unable to pack up their belongings in time to make the flight (the youngster is pictured preparing to fly out this evening)
Two passengers on the fully booked 7.30pm flight were offered 500 Euros to give up their seats to allow the mother and daughter to fly home (the teenager is pictured preparing to fly home from Cyprus)
Speaking to The Sun, she said: ‘What kept me going was my family and the amazing support of my friends and all other people who got in contact to say they believed me.
‘Now, at last, I can go home to my own bed. I’m even looking forward to the cold weather back in England!’
She added: ‘I want to thank everyone who has supported me. I am innocent and the fight will go on to clear my name.’
The woman broke down and hugged her family this morning after a judge handed her a four-month suspended sentence.
The girl’s mother said tonight ahead of their return flight: ‘We are delighted to be going home where we will continue the fight to clear my daughter’s name. The fight is not over to get justice.’
There were touching scenes at the entrance to the airport terminal in Cyprus when the teen was met by her supporters. With her face covered by a sweater, the teen thanked the women while one of the Israeli women told her ‘The men you met are not representative of Israel.’
The teen’s mother who was close to tears, thanked the group and said:’ I would love to come to Israel to see you. ‘We cannot thank you enough for all your support.’
The girl and her mother had hoped to catch an earlier flight back to the UK but were unable to pack up their belongings in time to make the flight.
The 19-year-old woman from Derbyshire is swept away from court today and is expected to leave on a flight to Britain in the coming hours after receiving a suspended sentence in the controversial Cyprus rape case (left). The teenage Israeli footballer at the centre of the case Shimon Yusufov (together right), who denied rape, hit back today with his lawyer saying: ‘We hope she’s learned her lesson’
The girl’s mother held her arms aloft to the throng outside Famagusta District Court in Paralimni today as she described her daughter’s relief but added that she is ‘innocent’ and declared: ‘She’s coming home’
Two passengers on the fully booked 7.30pm flight were offered 500 Euros to give up their seats to allow the mother and daughter to fly home.
It is not known if the pair who accepted the offer knew it was the girl at the centre of the rape case.
The teenager and her mother were met at the airport by a member of the British Embassy who had pre-checked them on to the 4hr and 30min flight back to Heathrow.
Earlier today the Israeli footballer who had a holiday fling with the British teenager who later accused him and 11 friends of gang-raping her in Ayia Napa taunted her as she was freed and said: ‘I hope she has learned her lesson’.
The 19-year-old was in a consensual relationship with semi-pro footballer Shimon Yusufov, also 19, but told police he held her down while she was raped by a gang of 12 who also filmed it on their mobile phones in a hotel room after a night out last July.
Yusufov, who plays for Beit Shemesh FC near Jerusalem, denied rape along with his 11 friends but said today he accepted she should be allowed to return to Britain after six hellish months in Cyprus.
His lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh told MailOnline: ‘He takes the opinion that justice has been done. She was found guilty by the court of lying and I hope with this sentence she has learned her lesson. We respect the decision of the court and of course she was found guilty.’
Tel Aviv based Yaslovitch said the girl would be ‘stupid’ to launch an appeal against her conviction for public mischief, adding: ‘The appeal court will hear the same evidence and come to the same conclusion. It is a crazy thing to do’.
The young Briton was mobbed by hundreds of supporters as she left Famagusta District Court in Paralimni and was swept away to a hotel where she will be handed back her passport and taken to the airport for a flight to the UK this afternoon.
After the sentencing, with tears in her eyes, she said she was ‘relieved’ before her mother held her arms aloft and yelled to supporters: ‘She’s coming home’.
But she remains a convicted criminal because the suspended sentence handed down today meant a pledge by Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades to pardon her if she was jailed never materialised. Her appeal will be filed this week but her legal team hope Mr Anastasiades will still step in.
There was singing and chanting from supporters who say she was betrayed by police and the legal system in Cyprus
The British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has been spared jail and handed a four-month suspended sentence – meaning she will fly home today
Relief: The Israeli men accused of rape were quickly whisked back to Israel after their release from Famagusta police headquarters in July (pictured hugging), arriving at Ben Gurion airport to chants of ‘the Brit is a whore’
Briton, 19, is free to go home – but remains a convicted criminal after presidential pardon failed to materialise
The teenager at the centre of the controversial Ayia Napa rape case is heading back to Britain but has a criminal record.
She was given a suspended sentence and her passport back today after the judge in Famagusta opted not to jail her.
Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades was reportedly not willing to let the 19-year-old go to prison and would have pardoned her to ensure she got free passage to the UK because of the international furore over her case.
He has not needed to intervene meaning her criminal record remains, for now.
Human rights lawyer, Mark Stephens, a partner at London law firm Howard Kennedy LLP called the sentence ‘not ideal – but a practical solution because it allows her to ‘come home’.
He added: ‘She should never have been prosecuted or convicted’.
Ritsa Pekri, the girl’s Cypriot lawyer, said the appeal against her conviction will be filed by the end of the week.
Three Appeal Court judges sitting in Nicosia will hear the case which is expected to last two days.
Pekri said appeals usually take a year but given the publicity surrounding this case it will be fast tracked.
Justice Michelins Papathanasiou, who had been heavily criticised for his aggressive attitude towards the teenager and his handling of previous rape trials, said the young Briton, whose case caused international revulsion, deserved a ‘second chance’.
Delivering his sentence the judge admitted he had been ‘troubled’ by the case and let her go because of her ‘clean criminal record, her youthfulness, her regret, her emotional state of mind when she gave the false deposition and the emotional circumstances’.
He added: ‘The fact she’s stayed in Cyprus for the past months away from her country, her friends, her normal life in general as well as the loss of her academic year. This has led me to decide to give her a second chance’.
The Gemini Project, a charity supporting victims of sexual violence, has been supporting the woman from Britain including regular protests outside the Cypriot Embassy in London.
A spokesman said: ‘The fight continues to get all charges against the victim dropped, and to achieve justice in her gang rape case. For now, let’s bring her home, reunite her with her family and begin the long journey to recovery. This is not the end of a long fight for justice’.
And on the judge saying she deserves a ‘second chance’ the group added: ‘We are unsurprised by the sentence but disgusted how it’s leniency was framed as a kindness to the young woman when it is anything but. If we live in a just world we would expect to see the resignation or sacking of anyone involved in this corrupt case after a full investigation, charges dropped, a public apology, compensation for the victim, and systemic changes in Cyprus. This is an ideal unlikely to happen but if Cyprus cared about protecting women it is what should happen’.
And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested he will still push for a pardon and said today: ‘We will be following up on some of the issues in relation to the case. I spoke to the Cypriot foreign minister about that’.
The 19 year old’s mother held her arms aloft as she left court and said her vulnerable daughter, who is suffering from PTSD, has hallucinations when she hears foreign male voices and a disorder that sees her sleeping 20 hours a day was ‘just relieved’ that she can go home for the first time since last July.
The teenager’s mother said: ‘On behalf of the family, I would like to say we are very relieved at the sentence that has been passed down today.
‘I would also like to say thank you for all the support we have received throughout the globe.’
Addressing applauding supporters, she added: ‘I just want to thank each and every one of you for turning up today, having belief, having faith and making sure we get justice.’
She added that the 19-year-old should never have been convicted of any crime and her QC Lewis Power added: ‘The fight for her innocence will go on regardless’.
The woman will file her appeal to Cyprus’ supreme court to get her conviction overturned by the end of the week – but she is unlikely to return to the Mediterranean island ever again when she leaves later today.
The young Briton should have been starting university but instead has been trapped on the holiday island where she insists she was raped and was coerced by investigators to retract her claim
Close to tears herself and holding her arms aloft, her mother said the entire ordeal had been ‘very stressful’ and that the family were looking forward to returning to the UK.
Timeline: Six month ordeal of British woman ‘raped’ by 12 Israelis
The young woman from Derbyshire heads to Ayia Napa for a holiday before she is due to start university in September. She meets an Israeli footballer and they have a holiday romance.
Wednesday July 17 2019
The 19-year-old goes to the police and claims that she was pinned down and raped by up to 12 men, including her new lover, in the early hours of that morning.
These dozen men, aged between 15 and 22, are arrested and remanded in custody.
Thursday July 17
Five of the men are freed after police say there is no DNA evidence linking them to the alleged rape.
Saturday July 27
The teenager, who had been told to stay in Cyprus, was asked to give a statement to police. She says she is but is then subjected to eight hours of question – and a request for a lawyer is not agreed to.
She was then charged ‘giving a false statement over an imaginary offence’ after giving a written confession to detectives
Sunday July 28
The remaining seven Israeli men are released and rushed back to their home country
Tuesday July 30
The teenager appears in court and is remanded in custody having been formally charged with ‘public mischief’ – an offence for lying to police
Tuesday August 6
She then revokes her confession claiming she was coerced into giving it
Tuesday August 27
After five weeks in a Cyprus jail she is bailed. She cannot leave the island and must report in to police before her trial
Monday October 15
Her trial begins. The case is before a judge – not a jury as pressure grows in Cyprus and abroad for the case to be dismissed
Thursday December 12
The final judgment is delayed until December 30 – meaning she must spend Christmas on the island. Her mother says she has PTSD and is depressed
Monday December 30
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou finds her guilty based on the police evidence and her confession.
Tuesday January 7 2020
The judge said he was giving her a ‘second chance’ and suspended her prison sentence. Her lawyer Lewis Power QC said she will be returning home later on Tuesday but said her legal team would be challenging her conviction and were prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
She also said she was very grateful to the intervention by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: adding: ‘I spoke with him and he was very supportive. I am grateful to the Foreign Office.’
The mother wore a unicorn brooch that had been given to her by one of the protestors who had flown from Israel to show support for her daughter. She also thanked all the members of the public who had contributed more than £130,000 to a fund raising campaign to help pay legal fees.
Officials from the British embassy were present in court and it is believed flight arrangements for the girl to return to the UK have already been made.
Speaking on the steps of court afterwards her lawyer Lewis Power QC said the family is delighted she would be able return home – but added her ordeal in Cyprus exposed the ‘gaping chasm’ in the treatment of women abroad who report a sex crimes.
Mr Power said: ‘This has been an incredibly sad and tragic case for a young teenage girl from Derbyshire, a once happy and gregarious young girl who like so many of her age group came over to Cyprus with all the excitement of a young traveller and with high aspirations to attend university thereafter.
‘She was on the cusp of embarking upon a new chapter in her life but under the most dire circumstances she went overnight from being victim to being the accused having to endure not only the dreadful physical violation of a pre-meditated gang rape and serious sexual assault perpetrated upon her but also the prolonged mental ordeal under the judicial process in Cyprus, being accused of the offence of public mischief in that this was all a lie to the police.
‘She is adamant of her innocence and that she has told the truth. Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless. We will be appealing the conviction and will take this case to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and are prepared to fight this case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights’.
Prior to the judge entering the courtroom she had smiled as chants from protestors could be clearly be heard.
More than 50 demonstrators had stood outside chanting ‘shame of Cyprus justice’ and ‘Mr Judge – shame on you, don’t you have a daughter too’.
Court staff were forced to close the windows of the courtroom and pull the blind down but it did little to drown out the noise.
The 19 year old, dressed in a black sleeveless T shirt and black trousers stood nervously in the dock twirling her long hair in her hands.
She stepped down briefly from the dock to hug her mother who was close to tears as she waited for Judge Papathanasiou to deliver his verdict.
As the noise of the protestors demanding justice and not prison rippled round the courtroom she smiled.
The judge said he had taken the month the teen had spent in prison into consideration along with her young age.
He also said he had considered that she was on anti -depressant medication and that she had been forced to stay in Cyprus for month while the trial was being carried on.
The judge said the crime of public mischief was a serious offence that had led to 12 people being jailed. He said seven of the Israeli’s had spent 10 days in jail.
He said the crime was one of the oldest on the statute book in Cyprus and should not be treated lightly.
Her lawyers had asked Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to consider a suspended prison sentence after she was convicted of public mischief last week.
And Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades was reportedly not willing to let the 19-year-old go to prison and would have pardoned her to ensure she got free passage to the UK because of the international furore over her case.
The British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus arrives at court with her face covered to hear her fate and if she will be jailed
The woman’s case has caused great anger in Cyprus and the UK where many believe the woman should be treated as a victim not a criminal
The woman had smiled in the dock as chants from protestors could be clearly be heard in court this morning
The teenager was convicted last month of causing public mischief after initially alleging that she had been abused by 12 Israeli youths.
More than 50 Israelis fly in to Cyprus to support woman who claims she was raped by their countrymen in Ayia Napa
A group of around 60 Israelis travelled to Cyprus to protest outside court and show their support for the British teenager.
Adi Izrael said: ‘People took the day off work and came here because it is unbelievable, the amount of misinformation about it.
‘Many people say, ‘we don’t know she was raped’. But the way they (the Israelis) behaved, something is wrong with this case.
‘The rape was obvious and it’s obvious she deserves our support.’
Elazar More said of the Israeli men and boys arrested over the alleged rape: ‘They are a shame to the men of Israel. They hurt the dignity of the state.’
Cypriot protester Meli Michaelidon said: ‘I’m here because I’m fed up of all this – the way the system works in Cyprus and how it’s not protecting the victims and not protecting the least powerful and how it’s making everything right for whoever is in power.’
The incident took place last July at the Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in the party resort of Ayia Napa, where she was staying.
There were large numbers of supporters outside court today including 50 Israelis who have flown to Cyprus to stand by the woman at the sentencing, partly out of disgust that the ‘boys returned to Israel as heroes’, an activist said.
Her mother says her daughter has PTSD, sleeps 20 hours a day and suffers hallucinations when she hears foreign male voices – and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab piled on more pressure by saying travel advice for British citizens going to Cyprus is now ‘under review’.
The island’s Phileleftheros daily newspaper reported today: ‘Should the court move to order her to prison, the President has already decided that he will pardon the girl, immediately after the ruling’.
A Government source claimed the President would ensure her freedom after ‘considering the girl’s young age and the outcry which the case has generated both in and out of Cyprus’ – and denied it was because of British pressure.
Speaking to ITV News, her mother said the teenager was ‘terrified’ of being sent to jail.
‘She has been in Nicosia state prison before, she knows what it is like,’ she said.
‘She’s going to go in there for a conviction for this offence, and people will know what she has been saying about Cyprus. I can’t even begin to describe how upsetting that is.’
The woman’s supporters were chanting: ‘Mr Judge – shame on you, don’t you have a daughter too’
The student has been stranded in Cyprus since July after being accused of making up claims that she was raped – 50 supporters from Israel have flown there
Large numbers of people were at court to support her today in a case that has appalled by what has happened
Matters took a dramatic twist ten days later when she retracted her statement leading to police arresting her and then releasing all the Israelis, aged 15 to 22.
She was accused of lying to police and charged with the offence of causing public mischief, spending a month in a Nicosia prison before being granted bail. Her passport was also confiscated to prevent her from leaving the country.
As she languished in Cyprus waiting to hear her fate, her ordeal culminated in a hearing last month at Famagusta District Court.
During her defence against the charge of public mischief, she maintained that she had been raped but only withdrew her allegation under duress from police.
She claimed that she had been grilled by officers for up to eight hours without a lawyer present. She also alleged that they threatened to arrest her friends until she agreed to sign a retraction statement, which she eventually did in the early hours of the morning.
The woman also told the court that she had had a consensual relationship with semi-pro footballer Shimon Yusufov and was in a room with him when the other 11 appeared. She alleged that she was held down by him and raped while some of them filmed it on their mobile phones. He has denied being involved in the group attack.
During last month’s trial, a psychologist gave evidence alleging that the woman was suffering from PTSD while a linguistic expert said the retraction statement had been written by someone with English as a second language.
The 19-year-old (pictured covering her face leaving a court in December) hugged her mother and legal team as her six-month ordeal came to a close when she was given a suspended sentence. The trial judge said her passport would be returned by the court and she would be free to leave the island with her family
Some of the Israeli men who were initially accused of rape are seen arriving in court on July 25. The woman’s family say police protected them and treated her as a criminal from the start
Protest outside the Cypriot embassy for the 19 year old girl accused of making a false gang rape claim in Cyprus by 12 Israeli men.
The statement is the crux of a case that has sparked a diplomatic incident, with the teenager dragged to court and convicted of lying
Israeli youth involved in the Cyprus gang-rape case will not sue British teen
Pictured: The block of flats in which accused Israeli teen, ‘Sam’, lives with his mother and bother in Jerusalem
An Israeli youth at the centre of the Cyprus gang rape has no plans to sue the British teen convicted of lying about the attack.
A lawyer who represented the man, who can only be identified as Sam, said he considers the matter ‘closed’ and doesn’t plan to ever talk about the incident.
The 18-year-old who lives with his mother and younger brother in Jerusalem has now been called up for National Service with the Israeli Defence Force.
‘For my client, he considers the matter closed,’ said lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh.
‘No one will be suing anyone. He will not be giving any interviews and for him it is closed. It is over. They do not want to talk about it.’
Yaslovitzh said the teen had begun his 32-month National Service after his plans for a career as a professional footballer failed.
‘He is no longer playing football. There is no football career for him and he has begun his service.’
All Israeli men aged over 18 are required to serve in the country’s army for two years and eight months.
The youth’s mother, Julia, said her son would never give an interview about what took place in Cyprus.
When MailOnline approached her at the family home in a low rise block of sandstone coloured flats five miles from the centre of the Holy city she slammed the door closed.
Marios Matsakis, a forensic pathologist also told the court that 35 bruises and cuts on her body was an indication that she had been raped.
However, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou dismissed the testimony from the woman and the experts supporting her case, agreeing with the prosecution’s argument that she had fabricated the whole story because she felt ‘ashamed’ after finding out some of the graphic footage taken by the Israelis had been posted on social media and porn websites.
Despite the harrowing evidence, the judge described her as an ‘unreliable witness’ and maintained that the police had acted properly in securing the retraction.
None of the youths was called to give evidence by the judge, who insisted that the case was strictly one of public mischief and not rape.
Five of Israelis were actually released after a week before the British teen retracted her allegation. The remaining seven were released hours after she signed the statement saying she had made it all up and flew home to Israel where they were met with a hero’s welcome and were heard chanting ‘ The Brit is a whore.’
‘My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,’ said the judge in his verdict, describing her claims as inconsistent while adding that she had attempted to mislead the court.
The controversial conviction by Judge Papathansiou led to widespread public outrage not only in the UK but also in Cyprus and Israel, prompting an unprecedented intervention from the Foreign Office that the teenager had not received a ‘fair trial.’ It also described her case as ‘deeply depressing.’
Social media erupted with calls for a boycott of Cyprus while the legal fund set up by the woman’s family reached more than £135,000.
Demonstrators also gathered earlier this week outside the High Commission of The Republic of Cyprus in London, protesting about the treatment of the woman at the hands of the justice system in the country.
More than 50 Israelis have flown to Cyprus to stand by the woman at the sentencing, partly out of disgust that the ‘boys returned to Israel as heroes’, an activist told AFP.
‘The minimum we can do is to be there to offer support, to show her that we believe her,’ said Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.
The teenager’s mother also appeared on This Morning, defending her daughter and hitting out at Cypriot authorities.
Speaking from a dark room to preserve her identity, she said: ‘The whole police procedures in Cyprus are wrong. The CID said he didn’t take notes because he was too busy that night.
‘I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever about my daughter’s claims. She’s really suffering out here.
‘She’s getting worst on almost a daily basis. She has PTSD, is sleeping 16-20 hours a day. She is not in a good way at all and needs to get home to the UK.’
Judge who convicted British teen of lying about being gang raped by 12 Israelis in Cyprus ‘has a dislike of women and previously threw out another rape case despite strong evidence of an attack’
Cyprus judge Michalis Papathanasiou has been criticised for his handling of the case
The judge who convicted a British teenager of lying about being gang raped by 12 Israeli men in Cyprus has been accused of hating women after he previously threw out another rape case two years ago, despite ‘strong evidence’.
Michaelis Papathanasiou sentenced her today after ruling that she lied about being held down and gang raped by 12 Israeli men in Ayia Napa on July 17 last year.
His verdict triggered outrage with the girl’s lawyer Lewis Power describing her conviction as ‘one of the biggest miscarriages of justice’ he has ever seen.
Now, it has been revealed that Papathanasiou previously cleared a man of attacking a woman, with anti-rape campaign groups in Cyprus claiming that he has a ‘dislike of women’.
In that case, the judge told the woman, 52, that she had made up claims about being attacked by a man, 30, because she was jealous he had cheated on her.
According to the Sun, in his ruling two years ago, he said: ‘I’ve listened to the woman very carefully. I can’t rely on her testimony.
‘The witness in my opinion did not tell the truth and I will say that her testimony shows contradictions, confusion but also general vague and unreasonable positions.’
A prosecution source involved in the case said: ‘We were surprised the trial went against us as we felt the evidence was strong.’
The case has drawn parallels with that of the British teenager, who he ruled was lying about being attacked.
An expert witness who gave evidence at the Brit’s trial slammed Papathanasiou, claiming he was ‘aggressive’ and ‘shouting at the girl’, ‘excluding rape right from the start’.
Dr Marios Matsakis, 65, a forensic pathologist, also said the British teenager may have been drugged, claims he said were not properly investigated.
He added that the failure to properly examine evidence against the 12 Israelis made him ‘ashamed as a Cypriot’.
Describing the judge, Dr Matsakis said ‘my impression is he hates women’.
Protesters gather outside the Cypriot High Commission in London yesterday for the 19 year old girl accused of making a false gang rape claim in Cyprus by 12 Israeli men
Her lawyer Mr Power said if her case has been heard in the UK it is ‘highly likely’ she would have been cleared.
‘This girl has been stripped of her dignity and human rights,’ he said.
‘Overnight she went from a victim to an accused and it is only the support of friends, family and the legal team that has helped sustain her this far.
‘Having reviewed all the evidence if this was heard before a jury in the UK it is highly dubious whether she would have ever been convicted as it would not have met the test of beyond reasonable doubt.
‘The defence will be maintaining that this is a gross miscarriage of justice.’
He added: ‘We have been concerned about how the whole investigation was conducted The time has come one may feel for the criminal process in Cyprus to undergo much needed reform.’