The Supreme Court in the Republic of Cyprus has blocked an appeal request by the British teen’s defense team which sought to present two post-conviction sworn statements in Ayia Napa rape case, with the Judges siding with prosecutors who pointed fingers at the rape accuser’s behavior as well as one of her lawyer’s own words.
A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court rejected on Monday a request by the lawyers of a British young woman, who was accused by Cypriot police two years ago when she was 19 of fabricating rape allegations in Ayia Napa against Israeli youths.
Last year a 156-page skeleton argument was submitted to the Appeals Court after a Famagusta court found a British female guilty of lying about being gang raped in a hotel room in the resort town. While she had originally filed a rape complaint, she later signed a retraction statement but insisted she had been coerced by police.
But this week’s ruling concerned a request to provide two additional statements, one from the rape accuser herself and another from one of the lawyers on her defense team. The statements were aimed as direct responses to objections raised by prosecutors after reading the skeleton argument.
Prosecutors had raised objections saying the appeal could not go forward because the plaintiff had made “offensive remarks” to the media against the judge who presided over her case. They also argued that a remorse statement by the woman’s defense team essentially eliminated the right to appeal.
The British woman in her post-conviction sworn statement says she never asked her lawyer to tell the court before sentencing 'that I repented for something I didn’t do'
But the British woman, who was convicted on public mischief charges for lying to police, wished to provide a sworn statement saying she was unaware that one of her lawyers, Ritsa Pekri, had told Greek Cypriot Judge Michalis Papathanasiou that her client had “repented” for her act.
“The defendant has repented for her act, I want to make clear that the reason she did what she did was because she was under emotional distress,” Pekri had told the judge in December 2019.
According to appeal documents, the British woman in her post-conviction sworn statement says she never asked her lawyer to tell the court “that I repented for something I didn’t do.”
“During the court hearing when I was expected to hear my sentence, I had an English interpreter translating what was being said in court but I did not fully understand what had been said, otherwise I would have intervened,” the woman said according to details heard during the appeal.
Pekri also said in her post-conviction statement that she took her own initiative to make the remorse statement after realizing a prison sentence still possible, something the British teen and her family fought against after the young woman had already been in jail for over month.
“But before making the repent statement, I studied the legal references in the law and determined that based on legal precedent the defendant could proceed with an act of repentance during statements to mitigate a sentence but without negating the initial not guilty plea,” Pekri wrote.
The defendants asked the panel of appeal judges to block the two sworn statements by the defence, saying they failed to meet criteria, arguing there was “no new evidence but simply an issue of objective interpretation.”
Prosecutors also suggested Pekri’s defence was “flagrantly incompetent advocacy” which could not warrant further presentation of new evidence after “she made the remorse statement to score maximum leniency.”
Supreme Court Judges Tefkros Economou, Leonidas Parparinos, and Ioannis Ioannides, rejected the statements from the defense.
But the Athens-trained trio also made clear the Supreme Court bench was not making any rulings on the overall appeal or objections raised by prosecutorial authorities.
“All these matters remain and will be examined through the appeals procedure,” the Judges concluded.