A lawyer representing a 19-year-old British woman who faces a public nuisance charge for falsely accusing 12 Israeli teenagers of rape has withdrawn from the case because of a “serious disagreement” with his client.
Yesterday, Paralimni court judge Tonia Antoniou approved lawyer Andreas Pittadjis’ request to quit, and adjourned the case until 19 August to give the woman time to find a new lawyer. The judge ordered she remain in custody until her next court appearance.
Pittadjis said his decision to resign was made after consulting with the woman and her family, but 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.”
His resignation comes amid media reports that the woman claimed she was forced by Cypriot investigators to retract her original rape report.
A Cypriot law enforcement official denied the allegation, insisting she voluntarily admitted in writing to falsely accusing the Israelis – aged between 15 and 18 – who have returned to Israel.
Pittadjis said his decision to quit should not be linked to how the woman would plead. “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 state-run Cyprus News Agency reported the British 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, whom she has visited at the police detention facility “almost daily”.