Turkish court reduces religious official's sentence in child abuse case

Turkish court reduces religious official's sentence in child abuse case
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A court in Turkey reduced an imam’s initial 21-year jail term to 10 years and 10 months after revising the charges to "simple sexual abuse" and "deprivation of liberty"

A court in Turkey's southeastern Diyarbakir province has mitigated the initial 21-year prison sentence of a religious official who was accused of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy in a mosque to a total of 10 years and 10 months following a reassessment by the appellate court, Mezopotamya News Agency reported. The revisitation of the case has sparked widespread discussion and concern regarding the legal categorization of the offense and the implications for the safety and justice of minors in the region.
Following a new decision to categorize Imam Kadri Ozkaya’s withdrawal from his action as "voluntary desistance" and viewing the incident as "simple sexual abuse", a fresh hearing was held.
The prosecutor asked the court to penalize Ozkaya for "simple sexual abuse against a child" and "deprivation of liberty", in alignment with the appellate court's verdict.
The victim’s lawyer, Karadeniz, criticised the appellate court's interpretation of Ozkaya's desistance as "voluntary", emphasizing the threat perceived by the child during the incident. Karadeniz argued for a comprehensive examination of what constitutes force, underscoring the child's resistance which led to Ozkaya's withdrawal from the act.
Karadeniz urged the court to punish Ozkaya for multiple charges including "using public influence to commit sexual abuse", "qualified sexual assault", and "committing a chain of actions" including threats and deprivation of liberty.
In response, the defense counsel alluded to the lack of definitive legal value of the evidence presented, questioning the reliability of the child's testimony compared to that of a 57-year-old man. The attorney requested Ozkaya's release.
The court ruled to sentence Ozkaya to 10 years imprisonment for "simple sexual abuse", subsequently reducing it to 8 years and 4 months due to reductions. Furthermore, he received a one-year sentence for "deprivation of liberty", which was increased to two years considering the victim’s age and further to three years due to the sexual nature of the crime, eventually being reduced to 2 years and 6 months through discretionary reductions.
Summing up to a total imprisonment of 10 years and 10 months, the court also decided to maintain Ozkaya's detention status.