Source AP ©

Court releases German teen accused of sexual abuse

A German teen charged with sexual abuse of a 13-year-old British girl while on vacation in Turkey was released from jail Friday.

Omer Aycan, the lawyer, told reporters he would appeal the decision to release the 17-year-old boy.

"We think he should have remained in prison while the trial continues. Evidence in the court file requires that," Aycan said. "We will use our legal right to appeal."

The boy did not have to post bail, as Turkey has no bail system.

The German has been in jail since April 11, accused of abusing the girl he met on vacation in the spring. The trial was adjourned Friday and will reconvene Apr. 1, 2008, the private news agency Dogan said.

The case has been followed closely in Germany, where the foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, appealed to Turkey to let the boy return home.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the release of the boy from prison.

"I'm happy that Marco is free for now, that he can go home," Merkel said in Brussels where she was attending the European Union summit.

But the case has drawn little attention in Turkey. A gag order introduced by the court in Antalya, southwest Turkey, has restricted media coverage, and journalists are not allowed to watch hearings because the defendant is a minor.

Aycan has said the girl's family wanted the boy to pay for his crime. The lawyer said he requested that the German teen, identified only by his initials B.M.W. because he is a minor, be tried on charges of rape instead of sexual abuse.

It will not be publicly known whether the judges agreed to the rape charge until a verdict is announced, Aycan said. If he is found guilty of rape, the boy could face eight to 15 years in prison, the lawyer said. There are conflicting reports about whether the German and the Briton had sexual intercourse.

In July, state-run media said the teen could be extradited to Germany to serve time in prison if found guilty.

One of those attending the hearing on Friday was Vural Oger, a German politician of Turkish descent. He is a member of the European Parliament and involved in deliberations on Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Oger was seen entering the court house. He visited the boy in prison on Thursday, the Anatolia news agency reported, citing the boy's lawyers.

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