Suspected Turkish coup plotter soldiers’ extradition case begins in Greece

Suspected Turkish coup plotter soldiers’ extradition case begins in Greece

Yorgo Kirbaki – ATHENS
Suspected Turkish coup plotter soldiers’ extradition case begins in Greece A Greek court on Nov. 28 held the first hearing in a case regarding the potential extradition of eight Turkish military pilots who fled to the country a day after the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. 
Lieutenants Feridun Çoban, Süleyman Özkaynakçı and Abdullah Yetik, who were the first three Turkish soldiers heard by the Greek Appeals Judge Commission, denied the charges that they were involved in the failed coup attempt in Turkey, saying they came to Greece because their lives were at risk on July 15. 

After hearing the testimonies of the suspects, the commission decided to adjourn the trial until Dec. 6 to provide time for prosecutors to prepare indictments against the soldiers. Three more soldiers are expected to appear in court on Dec. 2, while the remaining two will be heard either on Dec. 8 or 9. 

The soldiers, including two majors, flew their jets to Greece’s Alexandroupolis on July 16, prompting Greek authorities to begin legal and diplomatic processes on charges of illegal entry into the country.

As the soldiers applied for asylum, Turkey demanded their immediate extradition on suspicion of involvement in the coup attempt.

In late July, a local Greek court sentenced the eight soldiers to two-month suspended prison terms on charges of illegally entering the country.

Greece’s political asylum commission, meanwhile, rejected the asylum application of seven of the soldiers, leaving just one more soldier to be reviewed for the process.

After the Greek rejection for asylum, the soldiers appealed the decision. The appeal process is expected to end by March 2017. 

One of the lawyers of the soldiers, Stavrula Tomara, told daily Hürriyet “that the soldiers will stay in Greece until their asylum process in concluded” regardless of the court’s ultimate decision on their extradition.

Tomara also said she believed the asylum request of the remaining soldier had been approved but that the asylum commission had not made an announcement.

Before appearing in court, three soldiers spoke to Greek media. Yetik said he was “dreaming of a new life either in Europe or the United States,” while Özkaynakçı said “if we are sent back to Turkey, jail or death awaits us. I will live wherever it is, as long as I don’t return to Turkey.”