Turk of­fi­cers seek asy­lum

Athens will ‘swiftly’ ex­am­ine re­quests, as Ankara eyes ex­tra­di­tion over failed coup

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greek au­thor­i­ties said over the week­end that they would con­sider the asy­lum re­quests of eight Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who fled Turkey on Satur­day aboard a he­li­copter af­ter the fail­ure of an at­tempted coup in the neigh­bor­ing coun­try but in­di­cated that the of­fi­cers’ al­leged in­volve­ment in the coup was a se­ri­ous con­cern.

The of­fi­cers faced a pros­e­cu­tor in Alexandroupoli, north­ern Greece, yes­ter­day on charges of il­le­gally cross­ing into the coun­try and vi­o­lat­ing Greek air space. They are due in court to­day, though they are ex­pected to re­quest an ex­ten­sion to pre­pare their de­fense. Their ap­pear­ance came a day af­ter they landed at Alexandroupoli air­port af­ter is­su­ing a dis­tress sig­nal.

Late on Satur­day, Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras told Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan by phone that the asy­lum re­quests of the Turk­ish sol­diers would be ex­am­ined “swiftly” but with “ab­so­lute re­spect” for in­ter­na­tional law and hu­man rights treaties.

For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias told his Turk­ish coun­ter­part Mev­lut Cavu­soglu that it would be “taken very se­ri­ously in mind that the ar­rested par­ties stand ac­cused in their coun­try of vi­o­lat­ing con­sti­tu­tional le­gal­ity and at­tempt­ing to over­throw democ­racy.”

Deputy De­fense Min­is­ter Dim­itris Vit­sas said yes­ter­day that Turkey’s ar­gu­ment for the ex­tra­di­tion of the eight Turk­ish of­fi­cers was “very strong” in view of the con­sti­tu­tional vi­o­la­tion.

Ilia Mari­naki, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing four of the Turk­ish sol­diers, told Skai TV that the men were fol­low­ing or­ders to trans­port in­jured peo­ple from the streets of Is­tan­bul via he­li­copter. While do­ing so, they came un­der fire by po­lice, Mari­naki said, adding, “they did not know there was a coup and were not in­volved in it.” Ac­cord­ing to the lawyer, the of­fi­cers fear for their lives and those of their fam­i­lies.

A unit of Turk­ish air force of­fi­cers landed in Alexandroupoli on Satur­day night aboard a mil­i­tary air­craft to col­lect the Black Hawk he­li­copter. Both he­li­copters re­turned to Is­tan­bul late on Satur­day.

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