In Greece Court rejects extraditing last two Turkish 'coup' officers

In rejecting extradition, the appeals court said Ankara had not provided sufficient evidence tying five of the eight officers to the coup.

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A military helicopter landed at Greece's Alexandroupolis airport on July 16, carrying eight officers who were seeking asylum after a failed coup in Turkey play

A military helicopter landed at Greece's Alexandroupolis airport on July 16, carrying eight officers who were seeking asylum after a failed coup in Turkey

(AFP)
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A Greek appeals court on Thursday ruled against the extradition of two Turkish coup suspects demanded by Ankara, after electing to protect another three and send back three others.

The Athens court accepted a prosecutor's arguments that the two military officers -- out of a total eight seeking asylum in Greece -- would be at risk if sent back to Turkey.

They followed a similar reasoning earlier this week for another three of the officers, but approved the deportation of the remaining three for "attempting to topple the regime" of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a judicial source said.

All eight men were in the same helicopter that landed in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis in July, hours after the failed military coup against Erdogan.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos has said the Greek authorities would follow the court rulings "irrespective of the political cost."

In rejecting extradition, the appeals court said Ankara had not provided sufficient evidence tying five of the eight officers to the coup.

That decision outraged Ankara, which has arrested tens of thousands of people as part of a wide-ranging crackdown since the attempted putsch.

"Greece is in the NATO alliance with Turkey and is a NATO ally. Our expectation is that the Greek government make every effort to return" those individuals to Turkey, Defence Minister Fikri Isik said Monday.

The case will now be be heard by the Supreme Court.

Turkey may still appeal the case, and any final decision to extradite rests with the Greek justice minister.

The two Turkish commanders, four captains and two sergeants requested asylum in Greece after landing in Alexandroupolis shortly after the attempted government takeover in mid-July.

The officers are currently also appealing against a Greek refusal to grant them asylum in September. They say they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey.

The case is awkward for Greece, which depends on Turkey to stem the flow of tens of thousands of migrants to its shores.

Several Turkish nationals, including civil servants and businessmen, have sought refuge in Greece following the coup attempt.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg last month said an unspecified number of Turkish officers serving in NATO command positions had requested asylum in those alliance member states following the botched coup.

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