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Greece Will Not Deport Alleged Turkish Coup Plotters

The Turkish coup plotters who fled to Greece to seek asylum will not be deported immediately back to Turkey, but will face trial for illegally entering the country.

The eight soldiers who fled to Greece to seek asylum will not be immediately deported back to Turkey to face potential treason trials according to the Greek government.

The soldiers, all of who are officers, are believed to have been leadership figures within the coup. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has requested their immediate extradition over the weekend, but after appearing in court on Monday the fate of the soldiers is uncertain, though at this point they will not be deported, Wiener Zeitung reports.

The eight officers, who arrived in Greece only hours after the unsuccessful coup, are seeking asylum in Greece after having landed their Blackhawk helicopter in the Greek border town of Alexandroupoli. While the eight have requested asylum, they were in court Monday for illegally entering the country without a visa.

One of the three lawyers for the soldiers, Vasiliki Marinaki said: “They fear their lives are in danger. For that reason they do not want to return to Turkey and they have requested political asylum.”

Ms. Marinaki also denied rumours that the soldiers were involved in the planning or leadership of the coup saying that her clients “knew absolutely nothing about the coup”, and were actually told to transport the wounded via their helicopter. According to Ms. Marinaki the reason for them fleeing Turkey was because they had come under fire from Turkish police.

The soldiers came into Greece having removed the insignias from their uniforms, but have since been identified as two colonels, four captains and two sergeants.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim via telephone saying that the Greek government would be looking seriously into the claims of asylum in “full respect of international law and human rights”. The process of determining the eligibility for the soldiers could take up to 25 days according to Athens.

The telephone call between the two prime ministers over the weekend led to the belief that the Greek government would initiate the deportation of the soldiers and Prime Minister Tsipras even assured President Erdoğan on Sunday evening that the soldiers would be returned within ten to 15 days.  So far only the Blackhawk helicopter the soldiers travelled in has been returned to Turkey.

The threat of the Turkish government to reinstate the death penalty for participants in the coup could complicate matters even further. The European human rights legislation that Greece is subject to does not allow for the extradition of prisoners who may face death in the country they are deported to. This legislation has led to several high profile cases in which criminals cannot be deported because they may face the death penalty abroad.

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