(Greece) – A court in Alexandropoulis, Greece has granted the eight Turkish soldiers an extension of three days for their trial. The eight soldiers fled to Greece in a Black Hawk helicopter and landed in the airport at Alexandropoulis after the military coup, fearing that the Turkish court system would find them guilty and dole at the death penalty.
The court in Alexandropoulis is pushing back their trial until this Thursday. Seven of the eight soldiers are charged with unlawful entry into Greece and the pilot is charged with instigating the unlawful entry and violating air traffic regulations. The group consists of two majors, four captains, and two master sergeants. They left the court handcuffed together in pairs with their faces covered.
The Turkish Ambassador to Athens, however, has insisted that the soldiers would receive a fair trial in Turkey, despite the fact that the country has already labeled them as traitors and is calling for their return. However, all eight soldiers are also seeking asylum in Greece, saying that they were only under orders and weren’t instigators of the coup. Greece is currently reviewing the asylum applications and has said that they will be looked at in accordance with international law. However, it appears that they did take part in the coup and that will also have a bearing on the application.
Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas has said, “What must be implemented is Greek and international law.” In addition, he said that the country will examine the asylum application, “but I must say that the argument in favor of extradition from the Turkish side is quite strong, I would say very strong.” Vitsas also added that asylum applications could take up to twenty five days to review.
On Saturday, the Black Hawk helicopter issued a distress call while in Greek airspace and requested permission for an emergency landing. Vassiliki Ilia Marinaki said that her clients have told her that they knew nothing of the coup and were only following orders to transport the wounded. On another occasion, she has also said that all the men have families, and they fear that if they return to Turkey they’ll receive the death penalty even though Turkey hasn’t had the death penalty since 2004. Public opinion seems to favor reinstating it to punish those who were part of the coup.