(Greece) – The asylum hearing for the eight Turkish soldiers who came to Greece in a Black Hawk helicopter after the failed Turkish coup on July 15, 2016 has been postponed. The soldiers’ lawyer, Menia Polychroni, said that the postponement was earned for all eight men and that the applications will now be considered on August 19 and the review process should be finished by August 26. Four of the Turkish soldiers have had their asylum interviews on Wednesday in Athens but even still, the hearings for all eight of the soldiers will be pushed back.
Turkey has said that they want the soldiers to come back to the country so that they could go through the Turkish justice system. The soldiers have expressed concern that if they were to return to Turkey, they wouldn’t receive a fair trial and that they ultimately would receive the death penalty. If the Greek government denies them asylum, they have the right to appeal the decision. Otherwise, they would have to return to Turkey.
Recently, the Greek court charged all eight of the men with illegal entry into Greece. They were given a two month suspended jail sentence for this. Meanwhile, the men have also applied for asylum in Greece. They maintain that they were unaware that a coup was even occurring until they received their orders to evacuate the wounded. They allege that when they realized what was happening, they fled for Greece, fearing for their lives. Once in Greece, they requested an emergency landing at the Alexandropoulo airport. Turkey has said that despite the men’s fears that they wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Turkey, that simply isn’t the case. However, if they were found guilty in Turkey for being part of the coup, they fear they could receive the death penalty, which was banned in 2004 but may be reinstated.