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EU Legal Official Asks Turkey Why 2 Held Greek Soldiers Not Charged

May 24, 2018

The President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), Antonin Mokry, has sent a letter to two Turkey lawyers representing two detained Greek soldiers who’ve been held since March 1 after accidentally crossing the border what their legal status is and why they haven’t been charged.

He said in his letter that their fundamental rights and their right to a fair trial must be secured throughout the entire legal process as stipulated in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, said Kathimerini.

A Turkish misdemeanors court on May 22 rejected for the third time an appeal for the release from pre-trial detention of Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis. No charges have been brought although it was initially said they would face trial for illegal entry and that espionage counts might be added.

Earlier, Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff (GEETHA) Chief Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis joined a chorus of calls for Turkey to release the soldiers, making a plea to the head of the Turkish Armed Forces, Hulusi Akar, on the sidelines of a NATO Military Committee meeting in Brussels.

Apostolakis, as was Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader and other Greek and European Union officials, was ignored.

Both countries are members of the defense alliance which has said nothing about the detention of the soldiers nor about Turkish fighter jets and warships repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters.

According to a statement from GEETHA, Admiral Apostolakis also told Akar “it is necessary to initiate procedures” to free the soldiers and stressed the need to end “the unlawful conduct” of the Turkish Armed Forces in the Aegean.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ignored all entreaties for their release, has essentially said they are bargaining chips and hostages to try to force the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers seeking asylum in Greece after fleeing a failed coup against him in July, 2016 in which they said they took no part.

The two Greek soldiers reportedly told visiting Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis who came to see them in jail that their “morale is high,” although the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said when they were taken they would be quickly released.

“We saw two young men, Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis, we spoke easily with them in a place where they shouldn’t be in, not even for a day,” Voutsis said after the visit without explaining what was done to get them out.

“Obviously, the request for their immediate release is more imperative and realistic than ever. Those who created and perpetuate this unacceptable situation at the expense of these two people expose themselves to international opinion and the Greek people,” he added, taking a shot at Erdogan and the Turkish government.

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said after they were taken that the soldiers would be quickly released in a day or two but as of May 24 was off only by some 83 days or – and counting.

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