by Aggelos Skordas
Not even 24 hours have passed since European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker demanded of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the release of the two Greek army officers held in a top-security prison in Edirne before the Orthodox Easter on April 6 during the European Union-Turkey summit in Varna, Bulgaria and Turkish reports claim that the two could face a sentence of up to five years. Specifically, according to state-run Anadolu news agency, “there is concrete evidence showing the crime has been committed by the suspects and the envisaged punishment for the act is five years imprisonment”.
“We trust that the Turkish authorities will resolve this issue in a just way, and I hope this issue will be resolved before the Orthodox Easter this year,” Juncker said but his calls seem to fall on deaf ears.
The agency also reported that the Greek lieutenant and sergeant pending trial have been charged with “attempted military espionage” by prosecutors, as well as “entering a forbidden military zone.” The report comes only hours after a Turkish court extended the detention of the two Greek servicemen currently imprisoned for 27 days after unintentionally crossing the borders with the neighbouring country.
Additionally, according to the Turkish daily newspaper Hurryiet, the court’s decision, rejecting the release (or the “house arrest” in the Greek Consulate in Edirne) of the Greek officers for the second time, was taken on the ground that “since they do not have a legal residential address in Turkey […] there is the thought that they can leave if they remain free”. Another reason given for refusing their release was that the alleged offence was committed by military personnel.