Greek Supreme Court rejects extradition of eight Turkish servicemen

January 26, 2017 8:20 pm
’s top court has rejected a request by Ankara, demanding the extradition of the Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in Athens after last July’s failed military coup, in a ruling that could exacerbate diplomatic tensions between the two neighbors.
A judicial source said Thursday that the Supreme Court had rejected the Turkish government’s extradition request for the eight servicemen, including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants.
The verdict also ordered the release of the Turkish soldiers from police custody. The soldiers had fled to Greece in a military helicopter a day after the abortive putsch in mid-July 2016.
Reading out the ruling, presiding judge, Giorgos Sakkas, said the eight were unlikely to face a fair trial if returned home.
Ankara says the eight, who deny any involvement in the coup attempt, will face prosecution if they return.
Greek ruling ‘politically-motivated’
Hours after the ruling, the Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed Greece for attempting to protect the alleged coup plotters, saying Ankara would review its relations with Greece in the wake of the “politically-motivated” verdict.
“We will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of this decision — which we believe has been taken with a political motive — on our bilateral ties, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and on other bilateral and regional issues,” the ministry said in a statement.

Four out of eight Turkish military officers are escorted by Greek special police forces as they leave Athens’ Supreme Courthouse, after a hearing concerning possible extradition, on January 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Istanbul court also issued an arrest warrant for the eight officers in Greece, the state-run Anadolu agency reported.
The Greek ruling could deepen diplomatic tensions between the two neighbors, which are already at odds over war-divided Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean.
The botched putsch in Turkey began late on July 15, when a faction of the Turkish military blocked Istanbul’s iconic Bosphorus Bridge and attacked the headquarters of the Turkish intelligence agency and parliament in the capital. 
Turkey began a crackdown on those accused of participation in the abortive coup after the attempt was nullified.
Ankara said a massive network, including senior government and judiciary officials and members of the army, were behind the coup.
Turkey has arrested over 37,000 people and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 others in the civil service, judiciary, police, military and elsewhere since the abortive putsch.
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