Greek court says Turkish soldiers should not be extradited

The same model Blackhawk helicopter flown by Turkish troops seeking asylum in Greece. [Melvin Jansen/ Flickr]

The Greek Supreme Court ruled today (26 January) that eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup attempt in Turkey should not be extradited to Ankara.

The eight Turkish soldiers sought political asylum in Greece after the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Turkey asked Greece to extradite them with the accusation of having been involved in the coup attempt.

The decision of the Supreme Court irrevocably closes the case as according to the law “negative decisions of the Supreme Court cannot change”.

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.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said Ankara demanded that Athens return the soldiers.

The judges accepted their arguments that in the event of extradition to their homeland, it would endanger their lives and would expose them to torture and humiliation.

The court also said that the main basis of the decisions was the priority of human dignity and respect for human rights as required by the European and Greek legislation.

For six of the army officers, the court’s decision was unanimous, while for the remaining two, only one member opposed.

Erdogan hopes to bring back the death penalty after coup attempt

Following Friday’s failed military coup (15 July), the Turkish government has been consolidating its grip on the country, particularly the army and the judiciary, and has even aired plans to reintroduce the death penalty. EURACTIV France reports.

In response to the Greek court's decision, Turkey's foreign affairs ministry said, “We protest this decision which prevents these individuals who have threatened the life of our president and took an active role in a coup attempt that killed 248 of our citizens ... from appearing in front of Turkish judiciary.”

“Once again Greece, an ally and a neighbour, has failed to fulfil the basics of the fight against terrorism,” the statement said.

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