Verhofstadt adds to calls for Turkish coup-linked extradition request to be turned down

Verhofstadt adds to calls for Turkish coup-linked extradition request to be turned down

The pressure on the government to refuse to extradite the eight Turkish soldiers wanted by Ankara for alleged participation in last July’s failed coup grew Monday as the head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, added his voice to those calling for the military officers to remain in Greece.

“I would like to stress the vital importance of fundamental principles that form the legal order we share across the European Union – and which oblige all EU member states not to extradite anyone, independent from his guilt, to a state where he or she would risk facing torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment,” wrote the Belgian MEP in a letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which he made public on ALDE’s website.

“I sincerely hope that Greek authorities will be guided by these principles when deciding about the fate of the eight Turkish officers,” added Verhofstadt, who said he acknowledged the “political complexity and sensitivity” of the case and could not judge if the soldiers were guilty or not.

The liberal politician’s letter comes in the wake of a campaign by a group of intellectuals, journalists and politicians in Greece for the Turkish extradition request to be rejected, even though this could cause diplomatic complications.

“These issues should be solved by the courts, without political intervention,” said one of the group’s figureheads, mathematician Apostolos Doxiadis, who also published an op-ed on the subject in the Wall Street Journal last week.

“In Turkey today, the conditions do not exist for a fair trial,” said another campaigner, economics professor Manos Matsaganis, at an event organized by the group in Athens last week.

The Supreme Court is to hear the officers’ case in sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and on Friday. In December, in three separate sessions with different judges, a lower court rejected the extradition request for five of the soldiers but approved it for three.

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