The Greek government has filed a petition to annul the decision to grant political asylum to one of the 8 Turkish soldiers who fled with a helicopter to Greece one day after the failed coup on 15. July 2016.
“Following the standing position in relation to the 8 Turkish soldiers, as has been repeatedly and publicly expressed, the Greek government submitted a petition for the annulment of the secondary asylum committee’s decision,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a press release late Saturday.
Co-pilot of the Black Hawk helicopter, Süleyman Özkayakçı, had been released early on Dec. 30 from a police precinct where all eight have been held pending consideration of their asylum requests.
Omiros Zelios, one of the lawyers representing the officers, told The Associated Press that the application will be heard by an Administrative Appeals Court. Any decision by that court can be appealed to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court.
“This procedure [at the Appeals Court] could last 1-2 years,” said Zelios, adding that it was the first time the government had asked for an annulment.
Zelios also said he expected the other seven officers to be granted asylum “soon.”
The decision of the Appeals Authority, an independent panel made up of two judges and a law professor, was expected as Greece’s Supreme Court had refused, in January 2017, to extradite the officers, arguing they were unlikely to face a fair trial in Turkey.
Ankara reacted furious to the asylum decision with the Turkish Foreign Ministry slamming it as political one rather a judicial one.
It is a “violation of international legal norms and principles” and another indication of Greece’s reluctance to fight terrorist organizations, the ministry said in a written statement.
“Greece, who granted asylum to one of the eight coup plotters who participated in the July 15 coup bid, has once again revealed through this decision that it is a country that protects and embraces plotters,” the statement said among others.
“Greece is not aware that every Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] member they release is a big threat to their country,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu said, echoing the government view with a tweet from his official account on the same day.
“The terrorists you release today are like dynamites ready to explode, and you may not have a country to protect when they do,” he added.
In the reasoning for granting asylum, the Committee expressed concern that the Turkish officer would not stand a fair trial if he should be extradite to Turkey.