The reopened leagal case against the Turkish translator and publisher of Apollinaire’s novel Les Exploits d’un Jeune Don Juan by Guillaume Apollinaire continues.

In 2009 İsmail Yerguz’ Turkish translation of the novel, Genç Bir Don Juan’ın Maceraları, was issued by publishing house Sel Yayıncılık. A year later both the translator and the publishing house, represented by İrfan Sancı, were brought to court on charges of aiding the publication of obscene texts. The case, which lasted about a year, was concluded on the third hearing. On the basis of expert evidence confirming that Apollinaire’s novel is a literary work, both translator and publisher were acquitted of all charges.

However, early in 2013 the Turkish High Court of Appeal reversed this verdict. In its rationale, the court argues that the translator and publisher cannot be acquitted of charges on grounds that the book in question is a literary work. The High Court of Appeal cited a court case in which the English publisher Richard Handyside was convicted and fined £25 sterling for publishing Little Red Schoolbook.  Subsequently, the case against İsmail Yerguz and İrfan Sancı was reopened at the Second Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul. Both  translator and publisher are now charged with child abuse and face a sentence of 6-10 years imprisonment.

The second hearing in the reopened case was held on 7 November 2013. At hearing, one of the defence lawyers cited an earlier verdict of the European Court of Human Rights in a case involving a Turkish translation of another novel by Apollinaire, Les Onze Milles Verges (‘Onbin Bir Kırbaç’). The Turkish translation was published by Hades in 1999. On the initial charges of obscenity, the Turkish court eventually imposed a fine and ordered the confiscation of the book. However, in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish verdict violated the freedom of expression as formulated in the European Declaration of Human Rights, and that the penalties imposed by the Turkish court were disproportionate and unnecessary in a democratic country.

On its website (http://www NULL.selyayincilik NULL.com/duyuru NULL.asp?id=49), publishing house Sel Yayıncılık, which hasn’t published any children’s books so far, expresses its fear that the ultimate intention is ‘to create a precedent on the basis of the extremely vague concept of “obscenity” and thus design the future of [Turkish] publishing.’

Pending the Turkish translation of the verdict of the European Court and additional pleas by defence lawyers the third hearing in this case is scheduled for Tuesday 17 December 2013 11:00h.

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