Clock ticking for Turkish soldiers sought by Ankara


Amid fresh pressure from Ankara to extradite eight Turkish military officers that are seeking asylum in Greece, Athens also has to contend with the fact that the maximum detention period for the servicemen is due to expire soon.

The maximum that Greek authorities can hold anyone who has not been convicted of a crime is for 18 months. In the case of the Turkish soldiers, this limit will be reached in April, posing a fresh problem for the government.

Athens has indicated that it will not extradite the officers to Turkey, where they are accused of being part of the 2016 failed coup. However, it has also challenged an administrative committee’s decision to grant asylum to one of the soldiers. Furthermore, it also detained the officer in question until the appeal is heard.

Ankara has renewed pressure on the Greek government for the eight soldiers to be returned. Last week, Turkish Deputy Justice Minister Bilal Ucar visited Athens to hold talks with Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis. Although the Greek minister insisted that the Supreme Court’s decision to reject Turkey’s extradition request would be respected by the government, Turkey submitted new evidence to support a third request for the soldiers to be handed over.

“Previous documents included information during the investigation stage,“ said Ucar. “Now, I gave documents on the indictment of the trial that involves these eight coup plotters and another 11 suspects.”

Kontonis suggested that the Greek government would be willing to consider the possibility of hosting the trial in Greece instead. He said it would be up to Turkey to take the necessary legal action for this to happen. Ucar dismissed the option.