Greece Criticized Over Turkish Soldiers’ Asylum Case

Former Turkish military personnel appear for court hearing in Greece

 

Greece’s government on Thursday came in for stinging criticism from a German media outlet for its handling of the case of eight Turkish ex-servicemen wanted by Ankara for their alleged role in the 2016 coup attempt.

Spiegel Online carried a piece accusing the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of being willing to believe the men will get a fair trial in Turkey, despite the stated concerns of Greece’s judiciary.

A lawyer for one of the eight men, Omiros Zelios is quoted as saying “the Greek government is bullied by Ankara,” while Thanos Dokos, director of the Eliamep think tank suggests any moves by Athens to now extradite the men will look like caving in to Turkish pressure.

The issue is a long-running concern for Athens and has caused diplomatic friction with Ankara.

Only this week, Greece’s Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas spoke about the appeal he filed against a judicial committee decision to grant asylum to one of the eight Turkish army officers who landed in Alexandroupolis in a helicopter, the day after the failed coup attempt in Turkey, in July 2016.

“The appeal that I filed was because I would like to be certain that my country does not give asylum to coup plotters,” Mouzalas told SKAI television.

One of the men, Suleyman Ozkaynakci, was granted asylum on Dec. 29 but the Greek government successfully appealed, leading to his renewed detention.

Greece’s Supreme Court has ruled that the eight ex-military personnel should not be extradited to Turkey on the grounds they will not receive a fair trial and could possibly be tortured.

Turkey, on the other hand, demands their extradition, accusing them of being traitors who tried to violently overthrow Ankara’s government.

Around 250 people were killed in a night of violence on July 15, 2016, when sections of Turkey’s military attempted to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Tuesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted in local media as saying: “Given the chance, I would like to repeat once more that we expect the extradition of the eight coup plotters as soon as possible.”