Greece extends asylum process for 8 fugitive soldiers

– Understanding the situation in Turkey is critical before a decision is made on the soldiers’ fate, says one of their lawyers
Greek authorities Wednesday issued a month’s extension on the asylum process for eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece following the July 15 coup attempt that martyred hundreds, according to Anadolu Agency.

The Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection’s asylum service said the process would include several days of interviews with the soldiers, set to begin on Aug. 19. The soldiers will remain in Athens.

“This is a good thing because we will have more time to gather evidence and we will also have the time to see how the soldiers arrested in Turkey will be treated, how their families will be treated, and what will happen with the death penalty issue,” said Ilia Marinaki, a lawyer for the soldiers.

The failed coup’s aftermath has seen citizens’ demands for the reinstatement in Turkey of the death penalty, whereas Turkish officials vowed fair trials for those who were responsible for the attempted coup.

Last Saturday, Ankara chief public prosecutor Harun Kodalak assured fair trials for all soldiers linked to the coup attempt and said innocent soldiers would be separated. “We will treat them fairly,” Kodalak said.

“The eight are afraid that regardless of the decision on the death penalty, they will be dead anyway. They believe that if they are sent back to Turkey they will be imprisoned, tortured, and eventually murdered,” Marinaki added.

Vasilis Terzidis, another lawyer for the soldiers, told Anadolu Agency that fully understanding the situation in Turkey is critical before a decision is made on the soldiers’ fate.

The eight soldiers fled to Greece in a military helicopter when the coup attempt failed and sought asylum in this country.

Turkey’s government has repeatedly said the deadly coup attempt on July 15, which martyred at least 246 people and injured more than 2,100 others, was organized by followers of U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen.

Gulen is also accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.