Top Greek administrative court rejects gov’t appeal against asylum for pro-coup soldier

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
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The General Council of State has rejected the government's appeal against the asylum of one of the eight ex-Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece after the July 2016 defeated coup.

The council, supreme administrative court of Greece, made its decision on Süleyman Özkaynakçı's case Tuesday, setting a precedent for the cases of other fugitive Turkish soldiers.

The ruling refers to the Geneva Conventions and says there is no concrete evidence that Özkaynakçı took part in the coup attempt or he is a member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

A Greek asylum committee had decided to grant asylum to Uğur Uçan in June after the Council of State also granted former soldiers Özkaynakçı and Ahmet Güzel asylum in May this year.

Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the decision, saying it is against Greece's international commitments in the fight against terrorism and it violates the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Presidency Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said in a tweet that this scandalous decision should be condemned and rejected by all parties including the European Union.

Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), slammed the decision, saying that the Greek judiciary has shamefully sided with Turkey's enemies and coup plotters.

"The judicial authorities giving decisions harboring putschists in Greece, which suffered from coups in the past, shows that the law is pushed aside and there are other motives," Çelik said.

The fight against putschists should be carried out with principles just like the fight against terror, Çelik said, adding that double standards in the fight against terror is supporting terror and judicial decisions harboring coup plotters is supporting coups

A few hours after the July 2016 defeated coup to overthrow the Turkish government, eight ex-military personnel had arrived in Greece on a hijacked Black Hawk helicopter and requested asylum.

Turkey immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of trials and appeals.

The soldiers are accused by Turkish authorities of involvement in the defeated coup and being members of the FETÖ.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.

Greece and Turkey are at odds in a number of issues including the disputes in the Aegean and Cyprus as well as presence of militant groups targeting the Turkish state and officials inside Greece and the inaction of Greek authorities.

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