‘From the outside, it looks like any other unassuming building: home to a KPMG office and shipping firm. But on the top floor sits Famagusta District Court – the scene of a shambolic trial that has sparked a diplomatic row between the UK and Cyprus.
‘You could easily miss it, it doesn’t look like a court,’ I was told by a fellow journalist ahead of the British teenager’s first appearance in court after arriving on the island on July 27.
But the unlikely appearance of the court did not prepare me for what I would witness over the next five months while reporting on the often farcical case of the young woman accused of making up a gang rape.
At times the proceedings were so shambolic and the court’s bullish judge so animated it would have been comical had it not been so concerning.
I lost count of the times I was left deeply disturbed by district judge Michalis Papathanasiou’s frequent aggressive outbursts. I have never seen a judge act so unprofessionally and with such disdain for a defendant.
Typically, he would lose his temper, scowl and shout in Greek: ‘Show respect, face the front and you must respect this court.’
The trigger for his outbursts could have been something as trivial as the woman gesturing to her lawyer or gazing out of the window
‘He was shouting, he was aggressive,’ said forensic expert witness Dr Marios Matsakis, who gave evidence. The doctor with almost 30 years’ experience, who examined the woman’s medical reports, added: ‘It was shameful, judges like this should go home. This case should have been finished a long time ago. It’s embarrassing.’
During the case, a steady stream of alleged petty criminals – including a British teenager accused of selling hippy crack – were paraded into the court.’
Read more: A furious judge and a trial that was a shambles from the start: Conviction of British woman, 19, for making up ‘gang rape’ attack by group of Israeli men has shone a light on Cyprus’s justice system, writes INDERDEEP BAINS