Strong signs show ex-soldiers involved in July 15 coup bid: Greece

Ioannis Mouzalas, Greece's migration minister, on Wednesday made comments on fugitive eight Turkish ex-soldiers, stressing that they had strong signs related to ex-soldiers on involving in the bloody coup attempt on July 15 in 2016.

Greece's migration minister on Wednesday said there were "strong signs" that the eight Turkish ex-soldiers, who applied for asylum in Greece in the aftermath of the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, were involved in the coup attempt.

Ioannis Mouzalas' remarks came during a program aired on Greek TV channel Skai.

Earlier this week, a Greek court suspended a grant of asylum given to one of the soldiers, saying it would make a final decision on the fugitive on Feb. 15.

Süleyman Özkaynakcı -- who co-piloted a helicopter out of Turkey with seven other soldiers aboard on July 16, 2016, the morning after the coup attempt -- had been granted asylum in late December by an independent committee.

Mouzalas said that the Greek government had appealed against the committee's decision in order to ensure that coup plotters were not given the right to asylum.

"As a state governed by the rule of law, we appealed against this decision," the Greek minister said, noting that they had not objected to the "previous 1,500 rulings".

"What is the difference? [In this case] There are strong findings that these people were coup plotters," Mouzalas added.

Noting that the Greek government was following a specific legal procedure in the case of the fugitive ex-soldiers, Mouzalas said that the Greek courts would have the final say on the matter.

Last January, the Greek Supreme Court decided not to extradite the eight ex-officers to Turkey, in a ruling the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized as "politically motivated".

Greek Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis has said the government will consider holding a trial for them if Ankara files an official request.

The Turkish Justice Ministry has sent several extradition requests for the former officers.

The issue was also discussed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's landmark visit to Greece last month.

The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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