Amid rising tensions, court rejects third appeal by Ankara for officers’ extradition

Amid rising tensions, court rejects third appeal by Ankara for officers’ extradition

At a time of increasing tensions between Greece and Turkey an Athens court on Friday rejected as “groundless” the third appeal by Ankara for the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece following the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. 

The head of the Council of Appeals Court Judges, Ioanna Klapa, said there was no evidence the servicemen would get a fair trial and that they risked being tortured if they returned to Turkey. 

“If they are extradited they will be subjected to torture, humiliation and degradation,” she said. 

Klapa added that there was no new evidence to substantiate the new offenses attributed to the servicemen. 

The new accusations, she said, violate European and Greek law.  

Turkish authorities claim to have evidence implicating the eight men in the failed coup and insist they be returned to their homeland to face trial on a string of charges including terrorism and attempted murder. 

All eight of the men have lodged appeals for political asylum in Greece. 

A video made public on Thursday shows the eight Turkish servicemen a few minutes before they boarded a military helicopter to flee from Turkey in July 2016, according to Turkish authorities.

The video shows the men walking through a military camp a few hours after the coup attempt, Turkish authorities said. 

The video was not in the case file for Friday's hearing but it is widely believed Ankara may use it in a fourth appeal for the men’s extradition.

Friday’s Greek court ruling prompted a scathing response by some of the Turkish media which accused Greece of harboring terrorists.

Meanwhile, at a rally in Turkey’s Erzurum province in Anatolia, Erdogan hit out at the European Union, with which it signed a deal two years ago to curb undocumented migration across the Aegean.

“You begged me not to open the borders,” he said during a speech at the funeral of a Turkish soldier killed in Afrin, Syria. “If we do it, you won’t find a hole to hide,” he added.

Earlier this week, the EU approved 3 billion euros for Ankara to spend on Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

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