The Turkish government has accused the duchess of smearing the country's image
5:23pm UK, Saturday May 05, 2012
A Turkish court has begun a trial against the Duchess of York for allegedly taking part in the secret filming of two orphanages in Turkey.
Sarah Ferguson faces charges of going "against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy" of five children at one of the orphanages, state news agency Anadolu said.
If convicted, she could receive a maximum sentence of more than 22 years in prison.
The trial began on Friday but the duchess chose not to attend.
The court said she should attend the next hearing, Anadolu reported.
But the duchess's spokesman said he did not think she had any plans to go at this stage, and the next hearing may not happen before the autumn.
As the crime of which she stands accused is not a crime in the UK, she cannot be extradited, it is understood.
The duchess, with her daughter Eugenie
The former wife of Prince Andrew allegedly made an undercover trip to Turkey in 2008 during which she secretly visited the two state-run orphanages with two TV journalists.
The footage of the five children was filmed at the Saray Rehabilitation and Care Centre orphanage near Ankara and shown on ITV's Duchess And Daughters: Their Secret Mission.
The images appeared to show the children tied to their beds or left in cribs.
The Turkish government has accused the duchess of smearing the country's image, while saying at the same time that it would investigate and address any problems at the orphanages.
The news agency quoted her lawyer, Cansu Sahin, as saying the duchess is seeking an out-of-court settlement.
Canan Yildiz, a lawyer representing the five children, said her clients have been "harmed" and would like to join the public prosecution against the duchess and the two journalists, who have also been indicted and could be tried separately.