'It's time to bring our girl home' - Bradford West MP Naz Shah on Government's 'shame' over Ayia Napa gang rape case

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Bradford West MP Naz Shah has said “Israel taking care of its own puts our own Government to shame” over the case of a British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus.

The 19-year-old alleged she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17, but she has said Cypriot police forced her to sign a retraction statement which led to her being convicted of public mischief at Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni.

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah. Photo: JPI Media

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah. Photo: JPI Media

Writing in the Mirror Labour’s Ms Shah said: “It's time to bring our girl home. I call her ‘our girl’ because we don’t know her name, only that she says she was raped by 12 Israeli men and has now, after a (deliberately?) botched investigation, been found guilty of a crime ironically called ‘public mischief’.

“The Cypriot police’s actions mean 12 alleged rapists are roaming the streets of Israel.

“It must have helped that the accused have friends in high places – or rather their parents do.”

The teenager has appealed to the Prime Minister to "please bring me home".

And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today the case must be handled "sensitively to make sure we don't do anything counter-productive".

Speaking on Sky's Ridge On Sunday, Mr Raab said: "I have conveyed our concerns about her treatment and the case to my Cypriot opposite number. I did that on Friday, and I also have also spoken to the young lady's mother to see what more support we can provide to her.

"So we also need to be careful that we don't do anything which aggravates the situation between now (and) the date of sentencing, which is on Tuesday. But the concerns that we have and that I have, have been squarely and firmly and categorically registered with the Cypriot authorities."

But the woman said: "Every second of this ordeal has been a waking nightmare.

"I'm 19 and all I want to do is clear my name and come home to my family," she told The Sun newspaper.

"I would say to both the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, both of whom are fathers, please support me with your actions, not just with your words."

She is due to be sentenced next Tuesday, and is facing up to a year in jail.

The paper also said that the Foreign Office contacted the woman's family on Thursday for the first time since her conviction.

Her family said they had not had any contact from Dominic Raab or ministers.

When contacted for comment, Number 10 reissued the Foreign Office statement from the day of the woman's conviction, saying it was "seriously concerned" about the "fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case and we will be raising the issue with Cypriot authorities".

Pressure has continued to mount on the Cypriot authorities over the case, and one of the country's former justice ministers said the public in Cyprus feel the 19-year-old "has been punished enough".

Kypros Chrysostomides was among a number of prominent legal figures in Cyprus who wrote to attorney general Costas Clerides urging him to intervene in the case.

He told BBC Breakfast: "The majority of the public in Cyprus feels that the young lady has already been punished enough. She has been in detention for four-and-a-half weeks and she is not able to travel to England during the proceedings.

"We believe that the attorney general, who is the appropriate organ to exercise, initiate or discontinue criminal proceedings, should have done that already for the public interest."

Meanwhile, a linguist has told the Daily Mail that the woman's alleged retraction statement is "highly unlikely" to have been composed by her.

Dr Andrea Nini analysed the confession supposedly given as evidence in the Cypriot court, which included phrases such as "the report I did", "not the truth", and "doing sexual intercourse", and said it was likely penned by a local police officer.

He told the paper: "Doing sexual intercourse is not something a native English speaker would say.

"They would say 'having sexual intercourse.'".