On July 15th 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey. The coup was badly organized, as we learned later, with units believing they were headed to an anti-terrorism exercise (hence their deployment in urban centers). And it failed badly, with soldiers getting executed by an angry mob of President Erdogan supporters. In the wake of that, eight Turkish soldiers decided they did not want to stay and see what is going to happen to them. They took a military helicopter and headed for Greece. And Greece, despite its many faults, is a member of the European Union, and that means that if you come here as a persecuted man, your side of the story will be heard.
The soldiers – three majors, three captains and two sergeants major – said they came to Greece seeking asylum because they were in fear for their lives. Their hopes lied in the European law that states that a person can’t be extradited to a country where they are in danger of being killed or tortured. This law doesn’t allow extradition even to countries with perfectly working legal systems, so long as they have the death penalty in effect.
Today, the Supreme Court of Greece ruled against the extradition of the eight Turkish soldiers. The defender Christos Mylonopoulos stated after the ruling that, “It is a great victory for European values, for Greek justice. The legal thinking is obvious. It is the observation of European values, the observation of legality, and the conservation of judicial civilisation.”
The decision, to say the least, makes things quite interesting. Turkey did not take it lightly, and Erdogan himself has proclaimed the eight soldiers as traitors.