A Turkish court has sentenced a German teenager to a suspended prison term of two-and-a-half years for sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl.
In a verdict issued Wednesday, the court ordered Marco Weiss, now 19, to be monitored for the next two years, two months, and 20 days. He will remain free in Germany, but will have to serve the remainder of the sentence in prison if he commits a crime in Turkey within the next five years. Weiss, who was eligible for a sentence of up to eight years in prison, did not attend the proceedings.
Weiss, from the village of Uelzen in Lower Saxony, was 17 when he was arrested in April 2007. He met the British girl when the two were vacationing with their families in the Turkish resort town of Side.
Weiss has denied that the two had intercourse, and says the activity they did engage in was consensual. He also said the girl had told him she was 15, which is the age of consent in Turkey.
Weiss had been detained in a Turkish prison for eight months before being released on bail in December 2007. His attorney had lodged a formal complaint with the European Court of Justice about conditions at the prison, where the teenager was held in a cell with 30 other prisoners and only one toilet.
German prosecutors in Lueneburg closed their parallel inquiry in May after being unable to confirm the sexual assault charges.
The girl's lawyer said he was happy that the court's verdict agreed with the prosecution's case that sexual abuse had taken place but added that he felt the sentence was too light. After discussions with the girl's parents, an appeal may be lodged.
Weiss' Turkish attorney, Mehmet Asim Iplikcioglu, said Weiss should have been acquitted. He said he would appeal the sentence.
"We will fight this to the end," Iplikcioglu told the Associated Press.
The case caused headlines throughout Germany and for a while placed a strain on official relations with Turkey. It became notorious for the number of times the hearing was postponed.
Editor: Susan Houlton