Turkey submits new extradition request for Greece coup suspects

AFP , Friday 27 Jan 2017

Turkey's justice ministry Friday submitted a new extradition request for eight suspects allegedly linked to the failed July coup, a day after the Greek Supreme Court refused to return them in a ruling that angered Ankara.

The Greek court blocked the extradition of the former Turkish army officers, saying that they would not have a fair trial in Turkey. Ankara denounced the ruling, saying it was "taken with a political motive".

The suspects -- who landed a helicopter in Greece a day after the botched putsch and asked for asylum -- were also ordered to be released from police custody.

The justice ministry swiftly sent its second request to Greece for the suspects' extradition, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

The Turkish foreign ministry said late Thursday it would evaluate the impact of the move on ties with Athens, including cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other regional issues.

In a bitter statement, the ministry said the eight individuals played "an active role" in the coup which tried to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused the Greek judiciary of encouraging "impunity".

The foreign ministry added the decision "was opposed to international law norms and principles" as well as violating the rights of the victims of the coup, in a statement.

Referring to Greece's own history under military rule, it said: "As a country which experienced coups in its past Greece, with this decision, has unfortunately become a country which protects coup plotters."

Any failure to extradite the suspects will likely damage relations between the two NATO countries which have enjoyed warmer ties under Erdogan, though tensions never completely disappeared.

The controversy also comes as Greece and Turkey are trying to work together to find a deal for the reunification of Cyprus in ongoing talks brokered by the UN.

An Istanbul court Thursday also approved a request from prosecutors for an arrest warrant for the eight including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants.

The officers deny having taken part in the attempted putsch and have claimed their lives are in danger should they return to Turkey.

They have requested asylum in Greece. Their applications were originally rejected in July but the appeals are currently being processed.

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