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01/10/2016

Turkey says 311 soldiers are still ‘missing’

Global Europe

Turkey says 311 soldiers are still ‘missing’

Turkey's President Rentzep Tayyip Erdogan

[Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Flickr]

Some 311 soldiers involved in the failed coup attempt are still missing, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told CNN Turk yesterday (1 August), leaving the door open for further expulsions from the military.

Following the dismissal of thousands of soldiers after the failed coup in mid-July, Turkey’s defense minister said that expulsions from the military were not entirely over and more personnel would be dismissed if necessary.

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, the Turkish authorities have already fired, suspended or arrested nearly 70,000 employees in education, the media and the armed forces.

At the same time, Ankara strengthened its political control over the army, which has taken power four times since the 1960s.

With a decree signed by President Racep Tayyip Erdoğan, the defense ministry announced the transfer of 167 senior officers to new posts. In addition, a previous presidential decree authorised Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to issue direct orders to the heads of the Turkish army.

Eight soldiers in Greece

Meanwhile, the future of the eight Turkish military personnel who fled by helicopter to Greece after the coup attempt is still unclear.

The eight soldiers landed at Alexandroupolis airport on 16 July, and as they were arrested they claimed political asylum.

Greece-Turkey tensions build over the extradition of fugitives

Athens is in a legal, diplomatic – even moral – quandary regarding what to do regarding Ankara’s request that Turkish 8 military who fled by helicopter to Greece on Saturday (16 July) should be extradited.

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Ankara has warned Athens that the soldiers should be extradited as they were involved in the coup attempt, while the Greek government claims that it will act in accordance with international law and the protection of human rights.

Sources recently told EurActiv that the Greek government had the political will to accelerate the extradition of fugitives but Erdoğan’s announcements regarding the introduction of death penalty “are just making the situation more complicated”.

14 Turkish navy ships ‘missing' at sea since foiled coup

Some 14 Turkish military ships on active duty in the Aegean and Black Seas are reportedly “missing”, according to reports.

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Ilia Marinaki, the lawyer for the eight soldiers, recently said that they are aware of the turmoil in Turkey and fear for their lives.

“We cannot say anything about the time-frame of the examination of the international protection requests,” director of the Asylum Service Maria Stavropoulos told Athens Agency, adding that “the general rule is that the process will be completed as quickly as possible”.

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