Turkish court frees German in sex case

15th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 December 2007, Antalya, Turkey (dpa) - A court in the Turkish city of Antalya on Friday freed a 17-year-old German youth who has spent the past eight months in jail awaiting trial on a charge of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old British girl. Marco Weiss was accused of assaulting the girl, named in German news reports as Charlotte M, in a hotel room in the Mediterranean resort on April 11 while they were both on holiday at Side. The court ruled that Weiss could return to Germany, setting no bail conditi

14 December 2007

Antalya, Turkey (dpa) - A court in the Turkish city of Antalya on Friday freed a 17-year-old German youth who has spent the past eight months in jail awaiting trial on a charge of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old British girl.

Marco Weiss was accused of assaulting the girl, named in German news reports as Charlotte M, in a hotel room in the Mediterranean resort on April 11 while they were both on holiday at Side.

The court ruled that Weiss could return to Germany, setting no bail conditions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Brussels: "I think that many people are rejoicing with him in Germany."

The trial is set to continue on April 1.

The youth's father had tears in his eyes as he left the Antalya courtroom, saying, "We're happy."

The case has generated large media interest in Germany, where there is a widespread belief in Weiss' innocence.

Weiss, who is still a school pupil, insists the girl pretended to be 15, rather than 13, and that she was a willing partner in a sex act that fell short of full intercourse.

The parents of the alleged victim, who lives in Manchester, have however said that their daughter was raped. Earlier this year their home was staked out by German reporters.

Turkish prosecutors had said they would demand the maximum sentence of 15 years for rape, reduced to 10 in the case of a minor.

Matthias Waldraff, counsel for Weiss, said in Antalya the court had ruled that more information was required and that continued trial custody was too onerous.

Hours before the court ruled on his release, his lawyers said they had made formal application to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg in a protest at his detention.

Lawyers representing the girl said they would appeal against the release.

German officials have criticized the repeated adjournments in the Weiss case, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussing the issue with senior Turkish officials in Brussels in June.

The full version of the alleged victim's testimony was presented, translated into Turkish, to the court only last month.

Turkish officials have expressed anger at what they have seen as a German attempt to influence the judicial process.

In Weiss' hometown, Uelzen, in the north of Germany, supporters drove through the streets honking car horns after the court ruling.

"We'll have a massive party for him when he gets home," said a girl, Laura, 17.

In Berlin, the German Foreign Office said consular officials would mind Weiss until he flew back to Germany and if he had to appear again in Turkish court.

DPA

Subject: German news

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