May 3, 2017 / 11:47 AM / 3 months ago

Greek court blocks new extradition request for Turkish soldiers

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Three of the eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece last July in a helicopter and requested asylum after a failed military coup against the Turkish government, are transferred in a police convoy to a court in Athens, Greece, April 25, 2017.Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek court on Wednesday blocked a second request by Turkey for the extradition of soldiers who fled to Greece in July after a failed coup attempt, court officials said, potentially increasing tensions between the traditional foes

The ruling applied to three of eight soldiers who fled. Extradition of three others was blocked last week. The case of the remaining two is pending.

Turkey alleges the men were involved in efforts to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan. It issued a second extradition request in January after Greece's top court ruled against the first, covering all eight.

Addressing the court on Wednesday, the prosecutor argued there was a possibility the men would not get a fair trial in Turkey. "They may be subjected to torture and inhumane behaviour," the prosecutor said.

The drawn-out case has highlighted often strained relations between Greece and Turkey, NATO allies which remain at odds over issues from territorial disputes to ethnically-split Cyprus.

The three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors landed a helicopter in Greece on July 16 and sought asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey where authorities have purged large numbers from the military and civil service.

They deny the charges of attempting to abrogate the constitution, attempting to dissolve parliament, violently seizing a helicopter and attempting to assassinate Erdogan.

Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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