Coup plotter soldiers in Greece seek asylum in three more European countries
Yorgo Kirbaki – ATHENS
REUTERS photoEight coup plotter soldiers who fled to Greece and sought asylum after the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 have also applied for asylum in three other European countries.
In an interview with the Asylum Commission in Athens, the first three soldiers said they had verbally sought asylum in France, Spain and Belgium in order to avoid extradition to Turkey.
The soldiers added they would also make a written application in the upcoming days.
Stavroula Tomara, one of the lawyers for the soldiers, said the asylum applications to the three other countries had been based on the 12th Article of the Dublin III Regulation, which allows a person to seek asylum in countries where they had previously resided legally.
Tomara noted the soldiers previously held offices in various European countries.
The Asylum Commission’s interview process with the soldiers is expected to be completed by mid-September. They have the right to appeal unless the commission approves the application.
Two majors, four captains and two non-commissioned officers had escaped to the Alexandroupoli province of Greece near the Turkish border by a military helicopter, one day after the failed coup attempt.
They had requested asylum in the country with Ankara asking for their immediate extradition on suspicion of involvement in the coup attempt.
In late July, a local court sentenced the eight soldiers to suspended two-month prison terms on charges of illegally entering the country.
The hearing of the asylum claim of the first of the eight soldiers had begun on Aug. 19.
Daily Kathimerini had reported that another seven Turkish citizens, including two professors, their children and three businessmen, were seeking asylum in the country.
Two Turkish military attaches in Athens, Staff Col. İlhan Yaşıtlı and naval attache Col. Halis Tunç, had also gone missing with their families. The Greek Foreign Ministry had canceled their accreditation in early August.