Patriarch’s Envoy Visits Greek Soldiers Held in Turkey

An envoy from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, visited on Easter Sunday, the Turkish jail where two Greek soldiers facing charges after accidentally crossing the Turkish border, are being held.

The Metropolitan of Adrianoupolis Amphilochios was dispatched for the meeting, which lasted for more than an hour.

Aggelos Mitretodis and Dimitrios Kouklatzis received the Holy Sacrament and thanked the envoy for his visit.

Amphilochios expessed the hope that they will be released soon.

Earlier, Bartholomew who is the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, revealed that the Church received permission from the the Turkish authorities after several days of efforts.

“We have been waiting for this response from Ankara for many days and we are delighted it came with the Resurrection. We express our joy and our emotion,” he was quoted as saying.

The soldiers who have so far been charged with illegal entry, are being held in a prison in Edirne, Turkey, since March 1.

They lost their way in bad weather while patrolling the border near the town of Kastanies and ended up in Turkish territory, while following footprints in the snow.

A Turkish court has rejected two requests for the release of the soldiers. Up until now, no trial has been set nor has the indictment been finalized.

Over the last week, Greece has escalated its criticism against Turkey, implying that Ankara is seeking political benefit from the prolonged detention of the two soldiers.