On Tuesday 17 December 2013 there was another hearing in the court case against the translator and the publisher of the Turkish edition of Apollinaire’s novel Les exploits d’un jeune Don Juan.
The case started in 2010, when the translator İsmail Yerguz and publisher İrfan Sancı of publishing house Sel Yayınları were accused of contributing to the dissemination of an obscene work. After several hearings lasting about a year in total, both the translator and the publishing house were acquitted of all charges.
However, last summer the Turkish High Court of Appeal reversed this verdict. In its rationale, the court argued that the translator and publisher could not be acquitted on the grounds that the book in question is a literary work. The case against İsmail Yerguz and İrfan Sancı was reopened; both translator and publisher were charged with child abuse and faced a sentence of 6-10 years imprisonment.
At the hearing on 17 December 2013 the court decided the articles against child abuse were not to be applied in this case. Still, the court didn’t acquit the translator and the publisher of all charges. Instead, prosecution has been suspended for three years. The case will only be dropped if in the next three years no similar charges are filed against either of them. Compared to the first court decision of 2010 this represents a serious escalation of the situation.
In a statement on its website, Sel (http://www NULL.selyayincilik NULL.com/duyuru NULL.asp?id=50) publishing house writes that the outcome is an attempt to interfere with the publishing house’s policy. As PEN International and the International Publishers’ Assocation state in their press release (http://www NULL.pen-international NULL.org/newsitems/judicial-harassment-in-turkey-publishers-ordeal-highlights-need-for-reform/) the suspension of a court decision means that for the next three years ‘the publisher [and the translator] live under constant threat of imprisonment’.
Unfortunately this is not the first example of suspending a court decision in cases of allegedly obscene publications. Last year, for example, Sel publishing house and translator Süha Sertabiboğlu were also faced with a three-year suspension period in the case concerning the novel The Soft Machine by W.S. Burroughs.