“There was no other way out of that police station other than [to] sign that retraction statement. I thought, ‘As soon as I am outside this volatile environment I can sort this out.’ When you’re in that situation, the only sensible thing to do is to conform.” – Alleged Cyprus rape victim
This new documentary in ITV’s Exposure current affairs strand features the first television interview with a young British woman who says she was brutally gang-raped in Cyprus but ended up being prosecuted by the island’s authorities.
Fronted by ITV News anchor Julie Etchingham, this programme speaks exclusively to the woman, her mother, friends, and the man who stumbled upon her and the alleged rapists shortly after the crime is said to have taken place in Ayia Napa.
With new footage from the case, access to her friends’ text messages from the time, and contributions from expert lawyers, the programme asks what really happened that night, and explores whether the woman was subject to a miscarriage of justice after she apparently changed her story, saying the whole thing had been made up.
She received a suspended four-month jail sentence for ‘public mischief’ while the group of Israeli suspects walked free.
But now back in Britain, she says she was denied a lawyer during police interrogations, her interviews were not recorded, and she was forced to alter her statement under pressure at a police station.
Her defence lawyer at trial, Nicoletta Charalambidou, says the island has a culture of not believing women’s claims of rape. She says: “I do not understand why it’s easier to believe that a woman was not raped, rather than believing she was raped. Because if you wanted to believe her… All the evidence was there to conclude that there was rape.”
The Cyprus police have said their investigation was handled with professionalism, and they deny improper conduct.
The woman hopes that if she is believed, she will finally achieve justice.