A court in Istanbul ruled to suspend the proceedings against the translators and publishers of "Snuff" by Chuck Palahniuk and "The Soft Machine" by William Burroughs on Thursday, citing the amendments that came into force the same day, following the ratification of the Third Judicial Package this week.
The expert reports prepared by specialists from Bosphorus University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Istanbul Kemerburgaz University's Department of Law also arrived in court during the seventh hearing of the trial on "The Soft Machine" and the fifth hearing of the trial on "Snuff" that began at 09:30 a.m. at the Second Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul's Çağlayan courthouse.
The prosecution had accused the defendants of "obscenity" based on reports prepared by the Prime Ministry's Board for the Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications.
The expert report, however, said "The Soft Machine," translated by Süha Sertabiboğlu and published by the Sel Publishing House, and "Snuff," translated by Funda Uncu and published by the Ayrıntı Publishing House, do not violate the rules of obscenity since they constitute literary works, as stipulated in article 226/7 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK.)
"'Snuff' cannot be read as a pornographic novel. It constitutes a [critical] literary work that exposes through a tragicomical perspective the million-dollar porn industry and how women in particular are turned into objects in a consumerist society," the report said.
Palahniuk's "Snuff" relates the story of a pornstar who intends to conclude her career through a final act of consummation by having sex with 600 men in a single day and thus breaking the world record for serial fornication.
"In conclusion, Burroughs's novel 'The Soft Machine' is a work of literature. The writer whose fame goes [far] beyond the boundaries of the United States [aims to deliver] social criticism rather than [attempting to] arouse the reader's sexual instincts. The element of sexuality in his avant-garde narrative technique that resonated with the literary community also serves this purpose," the report also said about the work of influential Beat generation writer William Burroughs.
Suspect translator Süha Sertabiboğlu and İrfan Sancı, the manager of the Sel Publishing House, consequently requested an immediate verdict for their acquittal in accordance with the expert reports.
The Chief Justice, however, announced the court's decision to suspend the proceedings in view of provisional article 1/1-b of the 6352nd Law in the Third Judicial Package.
"We are trying to expand the borders of the freedom of speech. We are going to publish books again. This law is against us. This file will resurface. We demand an immediate verdict in confomity with the [expert] report. [This] has become a law of intimidation rather than a law of amnesty," Ayrıntı Publishing House manager Hasan Basri Çıplak then said in response to the court's ruling.
The provisional law in the Third Judicial Package that Parliament ratified on July 3 and which appeared on the Official Gazette two days later stipulates that when a court suspends proceedings against offenders, then charges levelled against them shall be dropped, provided they do not commit a new offense within three years through the press or other publications or by stating such opinions.
If the suspects in this case commit a new offense within three years and which lead to a conviction by the court, however, then both trials will re-commence and due proceedings will resume.
* "The Soft Machine," ("Yumuşak Makine,") Author: William Burroughs, Translator: Süha Sertabiboğlu, Publisher: Sel Yayıncılık
* "Snuff," ("Ölüm Pornosu,") Author: Chuck Palahniuk, Translator: Funda Uncu, Publisher: Ayrıntı Yayınları