Court freezes decision to grant asylum to Turkish serviceman

Via Ekathimerini – An administrative court on Monday issued an order to temporarily freeze a decision to grant asylum to one of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece after a failed Turkish coup in 2016 with the case to be heard next month. Meanwhile, following a decision by the Greek Police’s immigration unit, the serviceman is to remain in custody until a final decision is issued on his asylum.

The court on Monday accepted an appeal by the Greek state to suspend the ruling which was issued last month by a tribunal. In accordance with the temporary ruling, the serviceman is banned from leaving the country. 

Lawyers representing the Greek state argued that granting asylum to a serviceman accused of involvement in a attempted coup in Turkey could hurt bilateral relations. The Greek state’s appeal for the asylum decision to be halted is to be heard on February 15.

Lawyers representing the Turkish serviceman said that the decision to grant him asylum was fully justified and substantiated and cannot be overturned by any court. They added that the Greek state is obliged to protect people fleeing persecution and torture.

The Greek government was represented on Monday by the State Legal Council while the Turkish serviceman was represented by the Greek Council for Refugees.

Ankara has insisted on the extradition of the eight servicemen which it brands “traitors” but Greece’s Supreme Court ruled last January against returning them to Turkey.

Nevertheless Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted that the men be returned to Turkey. During a visit to Greece last month he claimed that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised him, just days after the attempted coup, that the men would be returned.

Greek Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis indicated last week that the Turks could stand trial in Greece for crimes they are accused of committing in Turkey though legal experts contest whether this is possible.

This article was originally published at Ekathimerini