Greek court rejects extradition of last 2 Turkish servicemen

May 04, 2017 - 12:16 pm

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities on Thursday rejected Turkey's new extradition bid for the last two of its eight servicemen who fled to Greece seeking asylum after last year's abortive military coup in Turkey, in a case that has strained ties between the two uneasy NATO allies.

The Turkish government said the ruling was politically motivated, and that it would inevitably affect bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries, which are historic regional rivals.

The Greek Supreme Court had already rejected an initial extradition request for all eight men, arguing that they would not face a fair trial in Turkey and that their lives would be in danger there.

That ruling angered Turkey, which sent a new official extradition request repeating allegations that the pilots and flight mechanics were involved in the coup.

But an Athens court on Thursday cited the Supreme Court decision to reject the new bid for the two men. The same court has rejected the extradition of the other six.

All eight, who fled to Greece after the July 15 coup attempt in a military helicopter, deny involvement in the coup. They are in temporary police custody pending a decision on their asylum requests, for which no date has been set.

Turkey's foreign ministry voiced "disappointment" with the rulings.

"The Greek judiciary, which we hoped was just and impartial, has once again disappointed us and rejected our second extradition request," it said in a statement Thursday.

"We are not seeing the necessary support and cooperation expected from an ally in combatting terror and crime," the statement added.

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