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Lawyer of British teen in Cyprus false rape case quits

PARALIMNI, Cyprus (AP) — A lawyer representing a 19-year-old British woman who faces a public nuisance charge for falsely accusing 12 Israelis of rape withdrew from the case Wednesday because of a "serious disagreement" with his client.

Paralimni court judge Tonia Antoniou on Wednesday approved lawyer Andreas Pittadjis' request to quit, and adjourned the case until Aug. 19 to give the woman time to find a new lawyer. The judge ordered the woman to remain in police custody until then.

Pittadjis said his decision to resign was made after consulting with the woman and her family, but wouldn't disclose the nature of his disagreement. His resignation comes amid British media reports that the woman claimed she was forced by Cypriot investigators to retract her original rape report.

A Cypriot law enforcement official denied the allegation, insisting the woman voluntarily admitted in writing to falsely accusing the Israelis, who have since returned home. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Pittadjis said his decision to resign shouldn't be linked to how the woman would plead. "Please do not interpret my resignation as whether she had to plead guilty or not guilty or anything, as this will be prejudicial to her defense and unfair to her as well," said Pittadjis.

The state-run Cyprus News Agency reported that the British woman's mother, who attended the hearing, said she trusts the Cypriot justice system and that she would hire a replacement lawyer for her daughter, who she has visited at the police detention facility "almost daily."

Lawyers representing the Israelis say they plan to sue the woman for damages.

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