Aug 14 2018

Greek soldiers released pending trial in Turkey

Two Greek soldiers jailed in March after being arrested on Turkish territory have been released pending trial, a Turkish court ruled on Tuesday.

The soldiers, Lt. Aggelos Mitretodis and Dimitros Kouklatzis, a non-commissioned officer, had been held on suspicion of military espionage after being found near the border with Greece in Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne in March.

Greece insists they strayed across the border accidentally during a spell of bad weather, and officials including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have accused Turkey of holding them hostages as leverage over its neighbours.

However, Tsipras quickly reacted to the soldiers' release in a tweet congratulating them on their freedom and thanking them and their families for their courage.

 

The court in Edirne had rejected previous appeals for the release of the soldiers, who are yet to be formally charged, saying the pair posed a flight risk since they had no registered place of residence in Turkey.

However, the judge ruled for their release pending trial on Aug. 14, easing one of the rifts holding Turkey and Greece apart.

Disputes over ownership of islets in the Aegean sea and over gas exploration rights in the waters around Cyprus continue to damage Greek-Turkish relations.