Not send­ing back Turks bad for ties, en­voy says

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Turkey’s am­bas­sador in Athens, Kerim Uras, yesterday urged the re­turn of eight Turk­ish of­fi­cers who fled Turkey to Greece on Satur­day fol­low­ing a failed coup, say­ing fail­ure to send them back would harm bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

The of­fi­cers’ re­turn to Turkey would be “pos­i­tive for bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.” “If not, it will not help at all,” he said, adding that “it was a mis­take to ac­cept these peo­ple in the first place.”

“What would you think if there were a sim­i­lar coup in Greece... and Turkey were har­bor­ing eight of your mil­i­tary peo­ple? I think need­less to say, you would not be very happy,” said Uras.

Fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions by Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan that the death penalty could be re­in­stated for par­tic­i­pants in the at­tempted coup, Uras was asked by Kathimerini whether the eight of­fi­cers could face the death penalty in Turkey. The en­voy re­sponded that “this is an on­go­ing dis­cus­sion” and that “there is strong pres­sure from the peo­ple that this penalty be re­in­stated.” How­ever, he said his view was that the death penalty would not be re­in­stated and in any case could not be ap­plied retroac­tively.

The of­fi­cers are to ap­pear in a Greek court to­mor­row on charges of il­le­gal en­try into Greece and vi­o­lat­ing Greek air space. How­ever, they have lodged ap­pli­ca­tions for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum that are ex­pected to take at least two weeks to process. “I hope we will man­age to swiftly go through the phases of due process and to re­turn these ter­ror­ist el­e­ments so that they will face jus­tice,” Uras said.

The am­bas­sador re­futed re­ports sug­gest­ing that the of­fi­cers would have no chance of jus­tice in Turkey. “They will face a fair trial. It will be to­tally trans­par­ent,” he said.

Uras also re­buffed re­ports ac­cord­ing to which 14 Turk­ish navy ves­sels are miss­ing. “We know where all our mil­i­tary equip­ment is,” he said.

The am­bas­sador pro­vided up­dated fig­ures on the fall­out of the thwarted coup in Turkey. A to­tal of 208 peo­ple have died, in­clud­ing 60 po­lice of­fi­cers, with 1,491 in­jured, he said. A to­tal of 7,543 peo­ple have been de­tained in­clud­ing 6,038 mil­i­tary staff. Au­thor­i­ties have sus­pended 2,745 judges and pros­e­cu­tors and 8,777 In­te­rior Min­istry staff, Uras added.

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