British teenager in gang rape case had no serious physical injuries, doctor tells Cyprus court

A British teenager who claimed she was gang-raped by Israeli tourists in the party resort of Ayia Napa bore no physical signs of a serious sexual assault, a doctor told a court in Cyprus on Friday.

Giving evidence for the prosecution, Dr Sophocles Sophocleous said he found a few light bruises on the young woman’s thighs and some scratches on her legs but they were not, in his opinion, consistent with gang rape.

The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service describes as a "myth" the idea that a lack of physical injuries rules out a rape having taken place. 

The teenager claimed in July that she had been gang-raped in a hotel room by the group of Israeli men, but two weeks later signed a police statement in which she retracted the claims.

She is on trial in a court in the town of Paralimni, a few miles from Ayia Napa’s beaches and nightclubs, on a charge of public mischief for which she could be jailed for a year. She denies the charge.

Her lawyers insist that she was raped and that she only signed the statement because she was suffering from extreme trauma and was subjected to aggressive questioning by Cypriot police officers, without a lawyer or family member, for eight hours.

Dr Sophocleous said he examined the young woman, who was then 18, after the alleged gang rape took place on July 17. “I did not see any signs of violence,” he told the court. Some of the bruises on her legs were consistent with bumping into a piece of furniture, he said.

Together with a gynaecologist, he examined her vagina but found no lesions or other injuries.

Lawyers for the teenager said they would summon a Cambridge-educated pathologist who will tell the court next week that the absence of bruises does not mean that the teenager was not pinned down and raped.

Michael Polak, a British barrister who is part of her legal team, said: “No one is saying she was kicked or punched or anything like that. She was pinned down and that’s when the other youths got involved.”

The teenager will be cross-examined for two hours by the prosecution at the next hearing in the trial, on Tuesday.

Under Cypriot law she had the option of staying silent in the dock, giving a statement to the court or subjecting herself to what is likely to be vigorous cross-examination. She chose the latter, with her lawyers saying she has “nothing to hide.”

“She will say exactly what happened to her on that night,” said Mr Polak. “A rape took place.”

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