Greek court says three Turkish soldiers can be extradited

Two of the eight Turkish soldiers (C), who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum after a failed military coup against the government, is escorted by special police forces, on 27 August 2016. [Reuters]

A Greek court ruled yesterday (6 December) that three Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July could be extradited, court officials said.

The three were among a group of eight who fled to northern Greece in a helicopter and sought political asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey.

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.

Turkey has asked Greece to extradite all eight, alleging that they were involved in the 15 July coup attempt and has called them traitors. They all deny involvement in the attempt to oust Erdoğan, which has led to a purge of the military and civil service.

Erdogan says coup was ‘gift from God’ to reshape country, punish enemies

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Friday’s failed coup (15 July) was a “gift from God”, giving him the chance to re-shape the country, and purge the country’s elite from enemies, who accuse him of creeping Islamisation in the traditionally secular state.

The Appeals Court ruled that the three soldiers should be returned to Turkey to stand trial for three of the four crimes it accuses them of – attempting to abrogate the constitution, attempting to dissolve parliament, and seizing a helicopter using violent means – but not for attempting to assassinate Erdoğan, the officials said.

The three have appealed to Greece’s Supreme Court, said Stavroula Tomara, a lawyer representing them in their claims for political asylum.

If Greek courts decide the soldiers should face trial in Turkey, that would override their asylum applications and they would be sent back to Turkey, a court official said.

On Monday, the Appeals Court ruled that three other Turkish soldiers should not be returned home. But a chief Athens prosecutor has appealed that ruling, court officials said.

Greece’s Supreme Court must make a final ruling on that appeal within eight days according to Greek law, the officials added.

The Appeals Court was expected to rule on the extradition of the last two soldiers on Thursday.

A board of first instance – a committee of experts that processes asylum requests – has rejected the asylum applications of five of the soldiers, who have appealed those decisions. The board has yet to decide on the other three applications.

The soldiers have been held in protective custody pending the outcome of their asylum applications and extradition hearings.

Turkish CHP party accuses Erdogan of undermining democracy

A senior representative of the Turkish Republican People’s Party (CHP), harshly criticised the ruling AK party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today (11 October) for undermining democracy after the failed coup attempt last July.

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