On Saturday morning a Black Hawk military helicopter carrying the eight Turkish servicemen made an emergency landing at the airport of the northern Greek city of Alexandroupoli.
The arrivals – three Majors, three Captains and two Sergeant Majors — requested political asylum in Greece, which later returned the helicopter to Turkey.
“We don’t know anything about the coup. Our commanders played an active role there, but we didn’t. We were ordered to land two helicopters outside Istanbul. We were transporting the wounded when they started firing at us from the ground. We feared for our lives because they would have executed us, so we decided to flee,” they said.
The eight were held by police on charges of illegally entering the country were due to appear before a Greek prosecutor on Sunday morning.
Their trial is scheduled for Monday. They are likely to be sent back to Turkey, but their official request for political asylum could hold up the deportation process, Athens News Agency reported.
The Turkish parliament is considering a motion to bring back the death penalty for the putschists, while European laws do not allow the extradition of people to countries where they can be executed. Many observers believe the case could complicate Athen’s’ relations with Ankara.
Meanwhile, thetoc.gr website reported citing Greek security sources that if the eight Turkish fugitives are granted asylum in Greece, many of their colleagues who took part in Friday’s failed coup in Turkey, could likewise try to seek political asylum in Greece.