The Supreme Court in Greece has rejected extraditing eight Turkish soldiers who the Turkish government believes were involved in last year’s coup which tried to take over Turkey.
After the coup attempt, the eight men who deny they were involved in the coup flew to Greece.
Giorgos Sakkas, presiding judge, said the men were unlikely to have a fair trial if they return to Turkey.
Turkey has branded the men traitors and wants them to return home and face prosecution. The soldiers which include three majors, two sergeant majors, and three captains argue any return to Turkey would put their lives at risk.
The Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be overruled or challenged. Justice Minister for Greece, Stavros Kontonis said he would respect the decision of the court.
The issue has created tensions between Turkey and Greece who are also trying to negotiate a settlement over disputed Cyprus.
In a statement the Turkish Foreign ministry Said, “We protest this decision, which prevents those people who had an active role in a coup attempt that targeted democratic order in Turkey, martyred 248 citizens from among security forces and civilians, injured 2,193 citizens and also made an attempt on the life of our president, from standing before the Turkish judiciary.
“Greece, which has experienced coups in its past, unfortunately, has fallen into the position of a country protecting coup plotters.”
The eight soldiers have lost their jobs and had their passport confiscated. Following the coup, tens of thousands of people from every level of society have undergone a purge by the Turkish government. This includes military personnel, government officials, and school teachers.
Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of using the coup as an excuse to removing opponents to make his grip on power more absolute.
The Turkish government rejects this and says it has taken action to root out terrorism.