Greece’s top administrative court is expected to rule on Thursday on whether the country can provide asylum to the eight Turkish officers whose extradition has repeatedly been demanded by Ankara.
The Council of State carries the burden of resolving the asylum issue, in a high-profile case that has rattled relations between Greece and Turkey.
The Supreme Court has ruled irrevocably against their extradition arguing they will not be given a fair trial in Turkey. The decision drew an angry rebuke from Ankara which accuses the eight of involvement in the country’s foiled coup attempt in July 2016.
If the court grants protection to “Turkey’s eight,” as they have become known, they will have to be immediately released from detention where they have remained for months while they wait for their application to be examined.
An asylum appeals committee had ruled in favour of one of the servicemen in December 2017 but the government appealed the decision.
If the court decides to reject their asylum request, then the government will have to issue documents that will allow them to remain in the country under a special status.
Whatever the ruling, the soldiers will have to be released at the end of May, when the maximum detention period of 18 months expires. Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis confirmed earlier this week the Turkish servicemen will be allowed to walk free when this period is completed.
The eight men, three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors, flew with a helicopter into northern Greece a day after the failed coup and sought asylum, saying they feared for their lives if they remained in Turkey.