Turks a worry for gov’t

Ex­tra­di­tion will be tough due to Ankara ac­tions, sources say as of­fi­cers con­victed

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As Turkey widened its post-coup crack­down yes­ter­day, sus­pend­ing the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights for at least three months, sources in the Greek gov­ern­ment said the ex­tra­di­tion of eight Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cers will be no easy mat­ter. The of­fi­cers were yes­ter­day de­tained af­ter a court in Alexandroupoli found them guilty of il­le­gally en­ter­ing Greece.

“Every­thing Turkey is do­ing is mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to ex­tra­dite the eight [of­fi­cers],” a source close to Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras told Kathimerini.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have been mostly cau­tious in their state­ments, not­ing that the ju­di­ciary will de­cide the Turk­ish of­fi­cers’ fate. But the an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nu­man Kur­tul­mus that Ankara would sus­pend the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights dur­ing a state of emer­gency it de­clared to pur­sue the plot­ters of last week’s failed coup has fu­elled con­cerns in Athens.

SYRIZA MP Eleni Avloni­tou caused a stir in Par­lia­ment when she re­marked that the eight of­fi­cers should be sent back to Turkey if they were in­volved in the failed coup. “Greece can­not give them po­lit­i­cal asy­lum,” she said. Later, Avloni­tou’s SYRIZA col­leagues stressed that her view was per­sonal and did not ex­press the line of the party or the gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, a court in Alexandroupoli found the eight Turk­ish of­fi­cers, who fled to Greece last week­end aboard a he­li­copter fol­low­ing the failed coup, guilty of il­le­gal en­try into the coun­try. It passed down twom­onth sen­tences, which were sus­pended for three years. The of­fi­cers, how­ever, re­mained in po­lice cus­tody pend­ing res­o­lu­tion of their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions.

Ankara has de­manded the ex­tra­di­tion of the of­fi­cers, in­sist­ing that they will re­ceive a fair trial in Turkey. But the of­fi­cers’ lawyers say they fear re­turn­ing to Turkey amid wide­spread purges fol­low­ing the failed coup.

The eight is­sued a joint state­ment yes­ter­day, apol­o­giz­ing for the “in­con­ve­nience caused to the Greek state” but say­ing they had no al­ter­na­tive af­ter com­ing un­der fire by Turk­ish po­lice in Is­tan­bul in the early hours of Satur­day.

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