A British teenager accused of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus may have retracted her claims because she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, her lawyer has claimed.
The woman, 19, is on trial on the island charged with public mischief for allegedly inventing the attack at an Ayia Napa hotel on July 17.
She maintains she was raped by up to a dozen Israeli tourists, but pressured by Cypriot police to make a retraction statement 10 days later.
Prosecutors say the teenager willingly wrote and signed the document.
It has now been reported that the teenager “suffered from hallucinations and heard voices” after the alleged attack.
The Daily Mail reported that a consultant psychiatrist told the court that the 19-year-old was suffering PTSD from her alleged assault when she retracted her statement.
On Friday, chartered consultant psychologist Dr Christine Tizzard gave evidence by videolink from Portsmouth Crown Court.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Adamos Demosthenous, Dr Tizzard was asked if the woman had told her about being raped at the age of 14.
Dr Tizzard said: ‘I can’t remember. At that time, the defendant had suffered hallucinations, she could hear voices and it would have been improper for me to concentrate on a specific issue that did not concern me and would have made her feel worse.
Speaking after the hearing in Larnaca, lawyer Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad – which is assisting the teenager – said she was diagnosed as having underlying PTSD, which was reignited by the alleged attack.
“We were pleased with the evidence from Dr Tizzard, which confirms what we have been saying,” he said.
“She explained in simple words to the court the ways in which PTSD affects someone who is put in a difficult situation.
“Dr Tizzard explained that those suffering from PTSD would have ‘hyperarousal’, which means that if they are put under pressure their fight or flight reflex would kick in and they would do anything to get out of that situation.
“In short, that means that those put in a position such as the one the teenager was when the retraction statement was taken would react in the way she did.
“We look forward to the rest of the evidence, which we say supports the teenager’s case that she was put under enormous pressure to sign the retraction statement.
“We hope it is now becoming clear why someone in her position might sign a retraction statement – because of the condition she was in.”
The case was adjourned following the psychologist’s evidence and date for forensic linguist Dr Andrea Nini to give evidence is expected to be set at a hearing on Monday.
He is expected to say it was “highly unlikely” that the retraction statement was written by a native English speaker, supporting the teenager’s case that it was dictated to her by a Cypriot police officer.
Her lawyers want Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to rule the statement is inadmissible as evidence.
The teenager was a week into a working holiday before she was due to start university when she alleged she was raped by the group of young Israeli men.
She spent more than a month in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August, but cannot leave the island, having surrendered her passport.
She could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine if she is found guilty.
The 12 Israelis arrested over the alleged attack returned home after they were released.
The teenager’s family have set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has raised more than £40,000.