Calls on social media for a tourist boycott of Cyprus have been backed by the mother of a British woman convicted on the island of lying about being raped by 12 Israeli men.
The 19-year-old was found guilty of causing public mischief, prompting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to express “serious concern” about the case in Ayia Napa.
Critics of the verdict called for people to avoid visiting Cyprus, which attracted more than 1.3 million British holidaymakers in 2019.
However, there are industry concerns that a boycott would be damaging for the island’s tourism sector.
The UK government looks set to intervene with a call for the teenager to be pardoned.
The woman’s mother told the BBC that Ayia Napa – where her daughter had been on a working holiday – was unsafe.
The teenager was convicted following a trial after withdrawing a claim that she was raped in a hotel room in July.
She has said Cypriot police made her falsely confess to lying about the incident at a hotel – something police have denied.
Her mother told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she believed her daughter’s experience in Ayia Napa was not an isolated incident.
She said: “The place isn’t safe – it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that’s happened to you, you’re either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what’s happened to my daughter may happen.”
Lawyers representing the woman have criticised the conviction and the way the case was handled by the Cypriot police and Judge Michalis Papathanasiou.
They say her retraction statement was given when no lawyer or translator was present and point to the fact the judge refused to hear any evidence about whether the alleged rape took place.
The teenager faces up to a year in jail and a £1,500 fine when she is sentenced on January 7.
The woman’s legal representatives have already said they plan to appeal against the conviction.
A GoFundMe page to fund legal costs passed its target of £105,000 on Wednesday.
Former Abta chairman and Sunvil boss Noel Josephides told The Times: “From experience, how effective a boycott is, is largely dictated by how long a case runs for and for how long it is in the headlines.
“When cases run for a long time a boycott can damage the tourism sector – you only have to look at past examples such as the boycott on travel to Myanmar.”
The Cypriot government said it had “full confidence in the justice system and the courts”.
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