A 19-year-old British woman at the center of a high-profile rape case has received a four-month suspended sentence on a charge of public mischief in Cyprus, an activist present in the courtroom told TIME.
The woman, who has not been identified publicly, covered her face with a scarf as she arrived at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni, eastern Cyprus, on Tuesday, eight days after a judge declared her guilty of fabricating a rape claim.
In July 2019, she reported being raped by up to 12 Israeli men at the resort town of Ayia Napa. Ten days later, she retracted her statement but has since said that she was forced to do so under pressure by Cyprus police. The police have denied this claim.
On Tuesday, the young woman was accompanied by family and her legal team to the courthouse, where she was greeted by dozens of protesters and activists from Cyprus and Israel.
Her sentence was suspended for three years, and she was ordered to pay €148 ($165) in legal fees by the court. The sentence also means she is now free to return home to the UK; she had already spent more than a month in prison in Cyprus before being granted bail at the end of August, and has not been allowed to leave the island since.
Ahead of the sentencing, lawyers for the woman told TIME of what they say are problems with the way the case has been handled by authorities, including the woman’s detention without a lawyer for eight hours at a police station on July 27, when she made her retraction.
“The whole sequence of the various authorities and the way they treat violence against women is problematic,” says Nicoletta Charalambidou, a Cyprus-based lawyer on the woman’s legal team.
The case has sparked public outcry in Cyprus, the U.K. and Israel.
Demonstrations took place in solidarity with the woman on the eve of the sentencing in London and Tel Aviv. Carrying signs reading “We Believe You,” protesters chanted “Jail the rapists, not the victims” outside the courthouse as the sentencing was carried out. Speaking to the BBC, Lewis Power, a lawyer for the young woman, said the case was “not finished by any means” and that he would be appealing the conviction. “We will be seeking an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and we will also be considering going to the European Court of Human Rights,” Power said.