Europe

Turkey coup 'traitors' to face trial in Greece

8 fled to Greece in helicopter following failed coup, will be tried for illegal entry

17.07.2016
Turkey coup 'traitors' to face trial in Greece 8 Turkish soldiers, who escaped to Greece with a military helicopter following the failed coup attempt, are brought into court in Alexandroupoli, Greece on July 17, 2016. ( Ayhan Mehmet - Anadolu Agency )

By Mehmet Hatipoglu

ALEXANDROUPOLI, Greece

Eight pro-coup soldiers who flew to Greece in the wake of the failed attempt to seize control in Turkey have been remanded in Greek custody, a prosecutor said Sunday.

In a court hearing in Alexandroupoli, prosecutor Anna Nikitopoulos read out charges of entering Greece illegally and illegal flight. They were remanded to prison until trial.

Their lawyer Menia Polihroni said: “The accusation of entering Greece illegally still continues. But the second accusation has been changed. One person will be charge with flying illegally and the other seven with encouraging illegal flying.”

She said that the charge “damaging friendly relations between Turkey and Greece” had been removed.

Polihroni said she would apply for a 48 hour postponement to the case on Monday.

She claimed the suspects did not know anything about Friday’s attempted takeover in Turkey but fled when they were fired on and later instructed to seek safety in Greece. She did not say who had instructed them to leave Turkey.

She said they had applied for political asylum in Greece but would seek to go to a third country if that were to be rejected.

The soldiers -- the most senior is a colonel, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu -- were handcuffed in pairs and dressed in civilian clothing as they arrived at court. Some tried to hide their faces from waiting journalists.

Late Saturday, a diplomatic source said the Black Hawk helicopter used in the escape had been returned to Turkey. It was received by the Turkish military and left Alexandroupoli at 11:30 p.m. local time (2030GMT) accompanied by two other Turkish helicopters, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

It had arrived at Alexandroupoli airport, not far from the Greek-Turkish border around midday Saturday.

Cavusoglu tweeted that Turkey had requested the “immediate surrender of the eight traitor soldiers”.

Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said: “On Saturday morning a Turkish military helicopter sent an S.O.S. while entering Greek airspace and asked permission for an emergency landing.”

The occupants were arrested.

Speaking to reporters following a special session of parliament on Saturday evening, Cavusoglu had said he received a telephone call from his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in which they discussed the attempted coup as well as the soldiers in Greece.

“They will expedite the extradition process,” he said. “God willing, we will bring those traitors to Turkey and surrender them to justice.”

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