UK

Ayia Napa: 'False rape claim' case adjourned after lawyer resigns

Andreas Pittadjis Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Andreas Pittadjis has resigned as the lawyer of a British woman accused of making a false rape allegation in Cyprus

The lawyer for a British woman in Cyprus accused of making a false allegation of rape has resigned from the case.

A court heard that Andreas Pittadjis had an unspecified "serious" disagreement with his client.

The case was adjourned and the 19-year-old woman returned to custody.

In July the woman said she had been gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa, but later withdrew the allegation.

She was said to have made the rape claim in anger after the men filmed the sex act, which was later released online.

The woman faces up to a year in prison and a fine, if found guilty of the charge of causing public mischief.

But an organisation called Justice Abroad, which is providing legal assistance to the woman, recently said that Cypriot police had pressured her to retract the rape allegations.

'Apparent confession'

Mr Pittadjis asked a court in Paralimni to relieve him of his duty as the woman's defence lawyer.

"There is a serious disagreement with the defendant on how to handle the case, so I ask for the court's permission to withdraw," he said.

The woman was tearful after her lawyer handed her the case file and exited the Famagusta District Court.

Mr Pittadjis later told reporters his resignation should not be connected to whether the woman was guilty or not guilty.

"This would be prejudicial to her defence, and unfair to her as well," he said.

Michael Polak, a British barrister with Justice Abroad, said in a statement that the woman had been refused legal representation.

He said her apparent confession was dictated to her and came with the threat of further arrest.

Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou rejected the claims as "baseless".

The alleged attack was said to have taken place on 17 July at a hotel in Ayia Napa, a town popular with younger tourists.

The Israelis arrested spent a week in prison before being released. They have since returned home.

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