(Greece) – The asylum hearings for the eight soldiers who fled to Greece during the Turkish coup have begun. During the coup, they left Turkey in a black hawk helicopter bound for Greece. When they landed, they informed Greek authorities that they had no prior knowledge of the coup and were only following orders. They have said that they fear that if they are forced to return to Turkey, they won’t receive a fair trial and will ultimately receive the death penalty. Meanwhile, the Turkish government has requested that the eight soldiers be returned to the country. Since they applied for asylum in Greece, however, the Greek government will need to go through the process of determining whether the men will be granted asylum or not.
In the initial hearing, only one soldier was present and each soldier will be interviewed on an individual basis. The original plan was that all eight soldiers would attend interviews in pairs. This will give each soldier the opportunity of having the undivided attention of their defense lawyers. After the initial interview concluded, Captain Feridun Coban, the soldier who was interviewed, was taken through the back door of the facility with his head covered. Each time the soldiers have been taken outdoors or photographed, they had their faces covered with a piece of fabric or item of clothing. Stavroula Tomara, Coban’s lawyer, didn’t comment on anything related to the proceedings. She said, “I will not talk to Turkish media until there is total freedom of the press in Turkey.”
The men are looking for asylum because they felt as if their safety was in jeopardy. They fled the country on July 16, 2016 after they learned about the coup. The individuals said that they had orders to transport the wounded, but they weren’t aware of the coup plot until it was actually unfolding. In Turkey, the eight soldiers are charged with violating the Turkish Constitution by using force and violence, and also for attempting to assassinate the Turkish president.