A British student fighting to clear her name after she was convicted of invented a gang rape on holiday was forced to sign a confession during a six-hour police interrogation, a court heard today.

Lawyers for the 21-year-old blasted the police handling of the case in Cyprus and claimed the woman’s rights had been “violated”.

The legal team said afterwards they were “happy” with the way the appeal at the Supreme Court in the capital of Nicosia went.

But she now faces a wait of up to six months for a verdict.

Her lawyers argued she did not have a lawyer present when she confessed and that during her trial for public mischief the judge in the case refused to hear any argument in relation to the alleged rape.

Then 18, the teen from Derby alleged she was raped by up to 12 Israeli men in a hotel room in the party resort of Ayia Napa.

The court heard the DNA of at least three people - including two who were never arrested - was found on the woman’s clothes.

The 12 males - then aged between 15 and 20 - were released from prison and allowed back home, while the girl was convicted of public mischief after a retraction statement 10 days after the alleged rape.

Her Cypriot lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou argued that “it was not a voluntary confession”.

“It was a product of her being forced and of denying her basic rights to justice,” she told three presiding judges.

“She was deprived of her right to a lawyer.”

Protesters supporting the British woman gather outside the Supreme Court where the appeal was held (

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

The teen was already suffering PTSD before the attack, Charalambidou said, which was worsened by the alleged rape.

“Another crucial factor is she was at the police station for six hours after being transferred in her capacity as the victim of a crime,” she said.

She said cops wanted supplementary statements from her with regard to the alleged hotel room attack.

“But within six hours she became the suspect in another crime,” she told the court.

“It’s important for us to examine whether before the alleged voluntary statement she was the suspect of a crime, and whether she was informed about her rights as a suspect.

“We believe all her rights were violated as both a victim and a suspect.

“If someone says they don’t want a lawyer there should be evidence of this, there should be proof they waived their right to lawyer and there is not any.

“We believe her youthful age should have been taken into mind, she was suffering from PTSD and depression.”

The Pambos Napa Rocks hotel in Ayia Napa where the alleged attack happened (

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Her legal team from Justice Abroad argued she was treated unfairly during her trial in 2019, as the judge never considered her a victim.

Ms Charalambidou said they were not allowed to present testimony about the alleged rape, pointing to the judge, Michalis Papathanasiou, insisting seven times that “this is not a rape case”.

She also said the defence team had not had access to the entire case papers, including some forensic and genetics evidence.

“From the few elements we have it was proved there was DNA from the Israeli people on the clothes of the applicant in the room,” she told the court.

“We know for sure the DNA results were placing them in the room.”

The then 19-year-old leaves the court after sentencing in a white car in 2020 (

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Adamos Demosthenous, representing the Cyprus attorney general, claimed the appeal should not go ahead because the woman had been critical of the original trial judge in an ITV documentary called Believe Me: The Cyprus Rape Case, which was filmed after her conviction.

But the three sitting judges ruled against the submission.

Mr Demosthenous argued it was “clear” the teen admitted the crime and was sorry for it, and that the defence team “cannot claim anything else now”

He also said she “chose” not to have a lawyer present when retracting the rape claim and said she was not deprived of her rights.

Cypriot women spread a banner as they demonstrate in front of the capital Nicosia's supreme court (

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

The woman’s lawyer Lewis Power QC said: “She is upbeat and determined to get on with her life and her university career.

“She and her mother are anxious about the result and will be watching from afar.

“This young woman’s story has reverberated around the world since it hit the headlines in 2019.

“It has been both shocking and distressing and has for her been deeply harrowing, humiliating and personally intrusive, yet she has risen above this with grit and determination and has courageously resolved to fight this case to the end where she believes that justice will be done.

“We also believe that ultimately justice will be achieved through a careful scrutiny of both evidence and adherence to the rule of law.

“We hope the Supreme Court of Cyprus this girl can free herself from the shackles of an unjust conviction which has tarnished her young life.”

Michael Polak, speaks to the media in front of the supreme court in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, on September 16, 2021 (

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

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Another member of the legal team, Michael Polak, added: “Without wanting to pre-judge the decision of the Supreme Court, we feel we were happy with the way proceedings went today and the way the judges engaged with our arguments.”

If the appeal fails, the lawyers plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which the woman’s lawyers said found against Cyprus after a teenager was taken to a police station in Limassol and separated from his father before confessing to murder without a lawyer present.

Mr Power added: “This is the biggest case here in the last decade beyond a shadow of a doubt and the world is watching.

“It is so important for young women across the world. This case is a beacon.”

He said he had spoken to the woman and her mother, adding: “She’s bearing up really well. She is getting on with her life at university.

“She is very anxious about the result but she is fairly upbeat and determined that this won’t ruin her life.

Women’s rights protestors gathered outside the court to express their outrage at the initial conviction.

One banner read “Cyprus justice shame on you,”, another “end rape culture” and one said “I believe her”.

Suzanna Pavlou, from the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, said a Cypriot MPs got in touch with her group three days after the alleged rape to ensure the authorities fulfilled their role towards the woman as a victim.

She said: “We were absolutely horrified by what was happening.

“The fact she was initially held hostage for months and then turned into the accused - it was not at all in the public interest for her to be charged and tried.