ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek prosecutor argued on Wednesday against the extradition of two Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in July after a failed coup attempt in Turkey, in a case which has highlighted strained relations between Athens and Ankara.
The two men are among a group of eight soldiers who landed a helicopter in northern Greece on July 16 and sought political asylum saying they feared for their lives in Turkey.
Turkey has demanded Greece extradite all eight, alleging they were involved in the coup attempt and has branded them traitors. They all deny involvement in the attempt to oust President Tayyip Erdogan, which has led to a purge of the military and civil service.
A Greek court ruled last month that three soldiers should be extradited to Turkey but they appealed against the verdict. Other courts ruled that the remaining five should not be extradited but those rulings were contested as well by a chief prosecutor. The appeals were brought before the Supreme Court.
During Wednesday’s hearing at the Supreme Court, the state prosecutor urged the judges “not to stick to legal documents and pretend that nothing is happening in Turkey”.
“We cannot just say ‘I wash my hands of you; take them’,” the prosecutor said. “Only the possibility that their rights will be violated is a reason against their extradition.”
It was the second hearing this week on the case. On Monday, another state prosecutor argued that two more soldiers should not be extradited. Another hearing is scheduled for Friday.
The verdicts are expected on January 23. If the Supreme Court rules that the soldiers must face trial in Turkey, their asylum applications in Greece will be overridden and they will be sent back.
Reporting by Renee Maltezou