Jan 23 2018

Greece won’t extradite Turkish soldiers accused of coup attempt - minister

Greece will not extradite eight Turkish soldiers who fled there in a military helicopter after a failed 2016 coup attempt against the Turkish government, the Greek justice minister said on Tuesday.

Turkey requested the extradition of the men, who are accused of participating in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and Greece declined citing the judicial process. This has further strained relations between the two NATO allies who are at odds over issues ranging from the fighter jet incursions over the Aegean Sea to the issue of Cyprus, which is divided between Greek and Turkish states, Reuters reported.

Stavros Kontonis said Greece’s top court had rejected Turkey’s request for the soldiers' extradition and, therefore, they would not be sent back, according to Reuters.

But an offer to try them in Athens is still open, the justice minister said.

“The legal framework... the options are clearly stated in the Greek penal code, so therefore it is at Turkey’s discretion to take the appropriate legal steps,” Kontonis told reporters he had discussed the case with Turkish Deputy Justice Minister Bilal Uçar in Athens.

The eight men - three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors - flew to Greece by helicopter on July 16 in 2016, saying they feared for their lives. They requested asylum.