Fugitive Turkish ex-soldier detained after asylum in Greece suspended

Fugitive Turkish ex-soldier detained after asylum in Greece suspended

ATHENS
Fugitive Turkish ex-soldier detained after asylum in Greece suspended

A Greek court on Jan. 8 suspended the asylum status granted to a former Turkish soldier, who is accused by the Turkish government of plotting the July 15, 2016 coup attempt along with seven others, and detained him, saying it will make a final decision on the fugitive on Feb. 15.

An appeals court in Athens upheld a request by the Greek government to suspend the decision made by an independent asylum council on Dec. 29.

The Greek government has said the issue, which threatens already tense relations with Turkey, is politically too important to be adjudicated by an administrative body, Reuters has reported.

The court said it was granting the order “for reasons of public interest” until a formal court hearing.

It also asked authorities to refrain from taking any action which could precipitate the individual leaving Greece.

The man was detained by authorities on Jan. 8.

Turkey has demanded the extradition of the soldiers, which it has branded as traitors. Greece has made clear it does not want the soldiers in the country, and government officials have said that individuals suspected of any involvement in the coup are not welcome.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of reneging on a promise to have the soldiers sent back within days of them fleeing to Greece. Greece disputes that account, saying the issue is up to courts.

But since then, Greek courts have ruled out the extradition of the eight to Turkey. Turkey accuses Greece of harboring putschists, but Greece denies it and says its judiciary is independent.

In early January, Greece’s justice minister said Athens was exploring whether the soldiers could be tried in Greece.

The two countries have signed agreements on criminal acts such as terrorism and the penal code may apply to both Greeks and foreigners in that case, regardless of whether any crimes were committed.

The soldiers are not accused of anything by Greece.

The eight men - three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors - flew to Greece by helicopter on July 16, 2016, as the coup attempt against Erdoğan crumbled. They have denied any involvement and said they feared for their lives.

ex-soldier, fugitive, Greece