NEWS

Greek islet initiative fuels concern amid Turk officers' hearings

Two of the eight Turkish servicemen (center front and back), who fled to Greece in a helicopter and requested political asylum after a failed military coup against the government, are escorted by police officers as they arrive at the Supreme Court in Athens on Wednesday.

TAGS: Justice, Diplomacy

A Supreme Court prosecutor on Wednesday recommended that another two of the eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece after a failed military coup in the neighboring country should not be extradited, citing concerns about their chance of a fair trial and potential treatment in Turkey.

“Even if they are Greece’s greatest enemies, they must not be extradited,” Haralambos Vourliotis told the court. “We cannot say we are washing our hands of this,” he said. “We’re kidding ourselves if we say that nothing is happening in Turkey.”

In testimony before the court on Wednesday, one of the Turkish officers said they left their country “to avoid being killed or lynched.” “If we had not come to Greece we would have been dead or in a very bad state,” he said.

On Tuesday a different prosecutor, Vassiliki Theodorou, advised against extradition for another two officers, citing the same fears as Vourliotis.

The remaining four officers are due to have their cases heard on Friday.

There are fears in Athens about the possible repercussions of the Turkish officers’ case on Greek-Turkish relations, which have come under pressure since July’s thwarted coup in Turkey.

Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space again on Wednesday, the latest in a series of transgressions.

Meanwhile there are also concerns about the possible consequences of an initiative by Greece’s Deputy Shipping Minister Nektarios Santorinios, who has submitted a document in Parliament outlining what he said were plans for economic development on 28 uninhabited Aegean islets under the European Union’s regional development program known as Interreg. The initiative provoked several reports in the Turkish media.

Furthermore, according to sources, the move has caused discontent within the ranks of the Greek government as Santorinios appears not to have secured the backing of his superiors. Military sources on Wednesday played down the initiative, saying that the Defense Ministry is always involved in discussions involving plans for investment or economic activity in border areas.

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