Turkish pilots arrived in Greece and flew the military Black Hawk helicopter back to Turkey on Saturday night, while the 8 passengers, the alleged Coup supporters who fled into the neighboring country and sought political asylum, were taken before the prosecutor on Sunday morning.
The three majors, the captains and two sergeants of the Turkish Air Force were confronted with charges of “illegally entering Greece”. Seven of them have been accused of “instigate the illegal entrance” while the eight person, the pilot, of “executing the illegal entrance.”
The initial charge of “endangering friendly relations of the Greek state with a third state and setting Greek people’s lives in a danger ” was dropped.
They will appear before a court in Alexandroupolis, northeastern Greece, on Monday.
The eight officers are seeking political asylum in Greece fearing for their lives if sent back to Turkey.
While the death penalty was abolished in 2004, incited by ruling Erdogan’s AKP, a major part of the public seems to favor the re-activation of the death penalty and thus to be applied against the initiators and supporters of the Coup attempt on Friday night.
On Saturday and while addressing the public in Istanbul, President Erdogan said “so it be” to the crowd changing “We want execution”.
According Lia Marinaki, one of the soldiers’ three lawyers, told media that “they were following orders to transport injured personnel with the four helicopters they were operating.” At some point, three of the helicopters were damaged by police forces shots and they decided to get on board on the one helicopter that was not harmed. “They first landed the helicopter in a forest area in Turkey, near the borders with Greece. There, they discussed about their next steps and they decided to come to Greece.”
Speaking to Greek and Turkish media, Marinaki said that they were informed about the coup when they spoke on the phone with their families. The lawyer added that the 8 wished to return to Turkey and reunite with their families but they were afraid to do so as they are accused of being coup supporters and that’s why they asked for political asylum in Greece.”
It is certain that they want to return to Turkey but they afraid execution,” the lawyer said adding that the asylum procedure would last up to one year.
According to KTG information, all 8 officers are below 40 years old.
The 8 are said to belong to a military unit in Istanbul.
On political level, Ankara wants to see the 8 back to Turkey as soon as possible and insists that they be extradited. Before any investigation, Turkey has already brand-marked them as “traitors”.
On Saturday, just a couple of hours after the helicopter had landed in Greece, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu tweeted that Turkey had “requested the immediate surrender of the eight traitor soldiers who fled to Greece with a helicopter.”
He later claimed that a colonel was the highest-ranking officer of the eight soldiers.
With the same request of extradition, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday.
The Greek PM told him that the asylum procedure would be quick but with “absolute respect to international law and human rights.”
Greece has to apply the Geneva Convention that forbids extradition into countries with the death penalty. In addition Greece and Turkey have bilateral agreement on extradition.
Turkish FM assured his Greek counterpart that there is no death penalty in Turkey.
Greek deputy Defense Minister Giorgos Vitsas told media that Turkey’s accusations against the 8 had a “strong point. They are accused for violation of constitutional legality and attempt to interrupt democracy.”
Of course, if the asylum procedure would need one year, during this time the Greek authorities would know whether Turkey has legislated to reactivate the death penalty and act accordingly.
On diplomatic level it would be wiser to return the 8 to Turkey. But all of my friends I asked about they said “Greece should not extradite them to Turkey.” Because they do not believe that they will have a fair trial and because they suspect that Turkey raised accusations against them without investigation about their role in the coup attempt, whether they were organizers or just “foot soldiers following orders.”