THESSALONIKI, Greece – A court in northeastern Greece has granted a three-day postponement in the trial of eight Turkish military personnel charged with illegally entering the country after they flew to Greece in a helicopter during a military coup in Turkey.
The court on Monday postponed their trial until Thursday. The helicopter's pilot has also been charged with violating air traffic regulations, and the other seven as accomplices to the violation. The eight — identified as two majors, four captains and two master sergeants — left court handcuffed to each other in pairs and covering their faces with towels or clothing, in the same way as they had arrived.
Turkey is seeking their return, and all eight have requested asylum in Greece. The Greek government has said their asylum applications will be examined under international law, but that the fact that they are accused in their country of participating in a coup will be taken into account.
"What must be implemented is Greek and international law," Deputy Defense Minsiter Dimitris Vitsas said on private Mega television Sunday. He said the asylum application would be examined "but I must say that the argument in favor of extradition from the Turkish side is quite strong, I would say very strong."
On Monday, Vitsas said decisions would be made by the judicial system, and noted that the examination of asylum applications "usually takes from 15 to 25 days."
The military personnel landed in Alexandroupolis Saturday in a Turkish Black Hawk helicopter after issuing a distress call and requesting permission for an emergency landing. Their lawyer, Vassiliki Ilia Marinaki, has said her clients say they knew nothing about the coup but had been instructed to transport wounded. They say that shortly after learning of the coup, they came under fire from the police and feared for their lives.