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World Europe 22 Sep 2016 Greece rejects asylu ...

Greece rejects asylum claim of Turkish 'coup' officer: lawyer

AP
Published Sep 22, 2016, 3:44 pm IST
Updated Sep 22, 2016, 3:49 pm IST
The move came as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York early on Thursday.
A military helicopter landed at Greece's Alexandroupolis airport on July 16, carrying eight officers who were seeking asylum after a failed coup in Turkey. (Photo: AFP)
 A military helicopter landed at Greece's Alexandroupolis airport on July 16, carrying eight officers who were seeking asylum after a failed coup in Turkey. (Photo: AFP)

Athens: Greece has rejected the asylum claim of a Turkish military officer who fled after the failed coup of July 15, his lawyer said Thursday, vowing to appeal the decision.

Lawyer Stavroula Tomara, who represents eight Turkish officers overall, told AFP that an asylum committee on Wednesday had "rejected" the officer's request and "frozen" those of two others.

 

A judicial source said this meant the court had ruled the two officers' arguments against extradition inadmissible.

The move came as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- the target of the coup -- in New York early on Thursday.

According to state agency ANA, Tsipras told Erdogan that democracy was "very important" to Greece and coup plotters were "not welcome."

Tomara said she would appeal against the rejection and request a re-examination for her other two clients, which she said could be done in the next nine months.

 

The lawyer said the rejection was based on the "arbitrary" assumption that the officer in question had taken part in the foiled coup.

Tomara represents eight Turkish officers, who are seeking asylum in Greece after landing a military helicopter in the northern city of Alexandroupoli in July, four days after Turkish army units attempted a government takeover.

Wednesday's decision does not mean the immediate deportation of any of the officers, a Greek government source told AFP, adding that that the asylum claims of the other five officers is still under examination.

 

Turkey has formally requested the extradition of the men  -- two commanders, four captains and two sergeants -- on suspicion of involvement in the failed coup. The men deny the accusations.

In late July, the court of Alexandroupoli sentenced the eight -- who face a military trial in their homeland if sent back -- to suspended two-month prison terms for illegal entry.

The men were subsequently relocated to Athens and are in police custody.

The eight say they will not receive a fair trial in Turkey, where the authorities have detained thousands of people over the coup, including top generals.

 

If sent home, their lives could be in danger, one of their lawyers has said.

Rights group Amnesty International has said it has "credible evidence" of the abuse and torture of people detained in sweeping post-coup arrests -- something Ankara has denied.

The case threatens to strain ties between the uneasy NATO allies, with Ankara labelling the eight "terrorists".

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