Greek Court Rejects Extradition Request For Eight Turkish Officers
Jan 28, 2017 07:37 PM EST
The Greek Supreme Court ruled against the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after what was supposed to be a failed coup attempt in Turkey. The decision angered Ankara and further strained relations between the neighboring countries.
Back in July, the eight Turkish officers landed a helicopter in northern Greece and sought for political asylum saying that they feared for their lives in Turkey. They also denied allegations of a coup attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara has been calling for their return but the soldiers have been kept in protective custody until final decisions on their asylum applications in Greece. On Thursday, the Greek court rejected the extradition request citing possible violations of human rights if they were sent home.
It was a big victory for the Turkish soldiers but many were not pleased with the ruling including the Turkish foreign ministry who said that Greece has failed to fulfill the basics of the fight against terrorism. Further, the ministry claimed that the court's ruling was politically motivated and that they will further reevaluate relations with Greece. Noteworthy, the soldiers had been accused in Turkey of attempting to abrogate the constitution, attempting to dissolve the parliament, seizing a helicopter using violence and for attempting to assassinate Erdogan. Following the Supreme Court's decision, the Turkish authorities had issued arrest warrants for the soldiers.
The extradition case has strained ties between neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey, which remains at odds over war-divided Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea. The Greek court ruling came as negotiations to reunify Cyprus reached a critical point. Due to this, Greek officials have voiced out fears that Turkey might retaliate against the ruling of the soldier's extradition by relaxing border controls. Earlier, a deal has been introduced with the EU to remove the flow of refugees to Europe. This would mean an increase in the 62,000 refugees and migrants that Athens currently have in the country.