A lawyer representing a British teenager accused of falsely claiming she was gang raped has withdrawn from the case because of a “serious disagreement” with his client.
Andreas Pittadjis’ request to quit was approved by Paralimni court judge Tonia Antonjou, who adjourned the case until 19 August to give the 19-year-old enough time to find a new lawyer.
The woman, who accused 12 Israelis of rape in Ayia Napa last month, is being held in prison after police allegedly forced her to retract the allegations.
The judge ordered that she remain in police custody until her next court appearance.
Mr Pittadjis said he decided to resign after consulting with the woman and her family, though he would not disclose the nature of his disagreement.
“I do not wish any longer to represent the defendant as I disagree with the line of defence,” he said after the hearing.
“Once there is a disagreement (lawyers) have an obligation towards the court, themselves and their clients to resign.”
The lawyer said he was not aware if the woman had appointed a new lawyer.
According to messages Justice Abroad said were published in media reports, the 19-year-old woman said officers forced her to sign documents, thought to be a confession, and threatened to arrest her friends if she refused.
Previous reports said the teenager had changed her story and told police she had made up the claims.
The teenagers she alleged raped her appeared in court, but five members of the group have since returned home to Israel.
Mr Pittadjis said his decision to quit should not be linked to how the woman would plead.
He said: “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 defence and unfair to her as well.”
The 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”, according to the state-run Cyprus News Agency.
Lawyers representing the Israelis said they would sue the woman for damages.
In a statement, Justice Abroad, who are supporting the teenager, said: “Reports by the Cypriot police that the teenager has voluntarily recanted her rape allegation are denied by the family.
“According to the family members, what in fact occurred, was that the teenager was taken by the Cypriot police to the police station at around 6.30pm whilst on medications.
“She was asked to provide a further statement in regard to the rape allegations.
“After providing a further written statement, the police officer told her that he believed that she was lying about the allegations and that he wanted to help her.”
Justice Abroad added that the woman was denied a lawyer by Cypriot police, against the country’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.