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Greek court refuses extradition of last two Turkish soldiers

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By Alasdair Sandford  with REUTERS, AFP
Greek court refuses extradition of last two Turkish soldiers

A Greek court has ruled against the extradition of the last two Turkish servicemen from a group of eight who fled their own country after July’s failed coup against the government in Ankara.

After three verdicts this week, judges have now ruled that five soldiers should not be extradited, but that three others should be sent back to Turkey.

The servicemen denied involvement in the coup attempt and sought political asylum in Greece, arguing their lives would be in danger in Turkey amid the government crackdown on its opponents since the summer.

Ankara has branded them as traitors. After a court decision against extradition on Monday, Turkey’s defence minister accused Greece of failing to show the solidarity expected of an ally.

Referring to the last cases to be judged, the servicemen’s lawyer Christos Mylonopoulos said:
“The court rejected the extradition request. It is a decision that is a credit to Greek justice and it is in agreement with a sense of fairness and with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Amid heightened tension between Turkey and Europe in the aftermath of the failed coup, German diplomats have been undergoing stricter controls at Istanbul airport. Four reportedly missed their flight.

Turkey reacted furiously after the deputy speaker of its parliament was temporarily detained by German police when she landed at Cologne.

Germany’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to Turkey’s foreign ministry after Aysenur Bahcekapili was held due to a problem with her temporary passport.

Deutsche Welle reported German police as saying that she had been held up for 45 minutes, and that her provisional papers did not indicate her diplomatic status.

The failed coup attempt in Turkey in July almost overthrew President Erdogan and cost the lives of at least 265 people.

The ensuing crackdown has seen an estimated 125,000 people dismissed or suspended from their jobs, and tens of thousands arrested and often charged with links to the Islamist movement of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. He has denied government accusations that he was behind the coup attempt.

Military personnel are among a number of Turks to seek refuge in European countries since the attempted coup and subsequent purge.