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British teen pleads not guilty over false rape report

PARALIMNI, Cyprus (AP) — A 19 year-old British woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a Cyprus court to a public mischief charge for making what prosecutors say was a false claim that she was raped by 12 Israelis at a holiday resort on the east Mediterranean island nation.

A judge set the start of the trial for Oct. 2 and released the woman on bail, finding it "proper and fair" to free her after she had spent nearly two months in police detention. The woman surrendered her travel documents to police and must appear at a Nicosia police station three times weekly. She has also been placed on a stop list prohibiting her departure. She posted bail of 5,000 euros ($5,550) in cash, while her father who was present in the courtroom guaranteed a bond of 15,000 euros.

Her defense lawyers say investigators used "oppression" to make her retract the allegation that she was gang raped at an Ayia Napa hotel last month. Cypriot authorities strongly deny that the retraction was coerced, saying that she volunteered the statement in writing.

"The teenager's case is that she has not lied about being raped and the oppression was used by the Cypriot police in order to get her to retract her rape allegations,' said Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad which is assisting in the woman's legal defense. "The purported retraction is unreliable because of what happened in the police station."

Polak said the defense team will present evidence at trial that the woman had not lied about being raped. Five Israelis were initially freed July 25 after no evidence was found linking them to the case. The remaining seven were released three days later after police said the woman retracted the rape allegations.

Polak called the case a "test" of the Cypriot legal system's adherence to Cypriot and European conventions and said defense lawyers would ask Cyprus Attorney General Costas Clerides to drop the case "after considering the facts."

The British woman's legal expenses are being funded by donations raised on an online platform.

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