The trial of a British woman accused of making a false rape claim in Cyprus descended into confusion on Wednesday after her lawyer abruptly quit over a “serious disagreement” with his client.
Andreas Pittadjis, a Cypriot lawyer, said that he could not continue because of differences with the 19-year-old over how to best mount a defence.
Mr Pittadjis gave no details of the disagreement but he appeared to take issue with the woman’s claim that she had been coerced by Cypriot police into retracting an allegation that she was gang raped by a group of Israelis.
“I do not wish any longer to represent the defendant as I disagree with the line of defense,” Mr Pittadjis said.
"Once there is a disagreement (lawyers) have an obligation towards the court themselves and their clients to resign.”
The woman’s family has been working with a British legal group, Justice Abroad, which issued a statement earlier in the week saying that Cypriot police had threatened her until she recanted her accusation against the Israelis. Cyprus police deny that claim.
Her trial has now been postponed until August 19 and she will remain in custody until then. Justice Abroad did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Pittadjis said his resignation was not an indication of the woman’s guilt or innocence.
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"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," he said.
The woman, who cannot be named, has been charged with public mischief and faces up to a year in prison if convicted.
Twelve young Israelis were arrested after she first made the gang rape claim in mid-July but have all been released and returned home.
The woman reportedly had consensual sex with some of the Israelis, who filmed the encounter and shared it among themselves.
Israeli media reported that some of the videos had been uploaded to the internet.