By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
ANKARA (AA) – A recent decision by the Greek justice minister to stop the extradition of a far-left terrorist to Turkey despite a Supreme Court ruling, shows Greece's continued reluctance to cooperate over the issue.
Previously, the extradition of eight former Turkish putschist soldiers, who had fled to Greece during the defeated coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, had been rejected by a Greek court and they were granted asylum in May and released from a Greek jail.
After being released, it was reported that the putschist soldiers were staying in a special area protected by 80 police personnel.
Fetullah Terrorist Organization and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016 in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Greek courts also rejected Turkey's extradition request for six far-left DHKP-C terrorists in the first half of 2018.
The DHKP-C is responsible for a number of terror attacks in Turkey, including a 2013 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara which martyred a Turkish security guard.
The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.
Greek government officials, when asked about the extradition of Turkish putschist ex-soldiers, always referred to judicial independence and their inability to interfere in the process.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, speaking at a joint news conference with his then-Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim last May, had said the issue is related to Greek justice.
"Justice is totally independent. We respect it even if we agree or not. They (putschist soldiers) have applied for political asylum. It is an issue bound to Greek justice," Tsipras had said.
– Minister's veto on the extradition of far-left terrorist
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, during his visit to Ankara in October last year, said that anyone who takes up arms against democracy should be tried before Turkish justice, referring to the defeated coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Kotzias was answering a question about the eight putschists in Greece. But he added that Greek justice is independent from the decisions of the Greek government and even if they do not like the court decisions, they have to respect it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Tsipras also met in Brussels last month.
When Erdogan asked about the putschist Turkish ex-soldiers in Greece, Tsipras, again, referred to "total judicial independence" in Greece.
However, the extradition of another terrorist to Turkey has sparked comments that the issue is not only related to court rulings but also politics and the reluctance of the Greek government.
Greek Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis has "frozen" the extradition of a suspected far-left terrorist Turgut Kaya to Turkey on Saturday, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court allowing it.
The Supreme Court of Greece (Areios Pagos), which is the highest court in the country on civil and criminal law, in June ruled in favor of the extradition. However, Kontonis used his own jurisdiction to "veto" the extradition.
The asylum application of Kaya was accepted on July 21 by the Greek Asylum Commission, after one month of Supreme Court's decision, and Kontonis vetoed the extradition of Kaya as he was granted asylum.
Kaya, 45, a suspected member of TKP/ML, an extreme-left terrorist group in Turkey, was arrested in February while trying to enter Greece. There is also an Interpol red notice against him.