In 2007, Bruce Laybourn and his wife Gülşen Nil Çiçek gave birth to a boy named Dylan. When marital problems began to surface, Gülşen Nil Çiçek went to Turkey to visit her family, bringing her son Dylan along with her. Once there she broke the news to her husband that she would not be returning to New Zealand.
Gülşen Nil Çiçek proceeded to file a custody case in Turkey, which the courts granted. However, according to court order Bruce Laybourn was to be allowed to see his son every February and August. In 2009, Laybourn arrived to Istanbul to see his son, however when his wife was nowhere to be found at the address provided for her, he filed a complaint with prosecutors. Gülşen Nil Çiçek claimed she was in Çeşme at the time and her son was sick, which is why she couldn't come to Istanbul. A case was opened against her requesting a six-year sentence. At the end of the two-year case the judge ruled in father of custody remaining with the mother, due to the child's young age.
Bruce Laybourn's attorney's appealed the ruling and the case was then sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, Laybourn also won a case filed in New Zealand to reclaim custody of his child. He then proceeded to open a case in the Istanbul Family Court, for recognition of the New Zealand ruling.
Bruce Laybourn went as far as contacting the Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark to explain his situation and Clark said she would speak to her Turkish counterpart regarding the issue. Later however, Clark announced that diplomats had done all they could, however unfortunately from a legal perspective it is not mandatory that Turkey require the child be returned to New Zealand.
This is a translation of an article originally written by Neslihan Keskin.
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