by Aggelos Skordas
A court in Edirne, northwestern Turkey, on Wednesday rejected the third request to release the two Greek army officers held in custody for nearly two months after they unintentionally crossed the Greco-Turkish borders at the Evros border region during a routine patrol due to bad weather conditions.
According to state-run news agency Anadolu, the Edirne 2nd Criminal Court of Peace ruled against a petition filed by the soldiers’ lawyers to release them from remand. The third request for the release of the two was rejected on the grounds that the data for which they were detained has not changed.
On Thursday, April 19th, the European Parliament voted for the immediate release of the second lieutenant and the sergeant currently held in a maximum security prison. In a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority of 607 votes, the European Parliament called on Turkey to swiftly wrap the judicial investigation of the tow Greek army officers, as they are being held for almost two months and no charges have been brought against them yet.
In a similar move, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) requested the immediate release of the two Greek officers on Wednesday. After the assembly’s spring summit, a statement was issued calling on Turkey to set the two free and respect human rights as well as the rule of law. At the initiative of the Greek delegation participating in PACE –along with a large number of MEPs from other European Union member states- a written declaration was tabled in Strasbourg on Wednesday to the Council of Europe.
The initiative has an inter-party character and is signed by the following Greek MPs: Aneta Kavvadia, Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Sia Anagnostopoulou, Giorgos Psychogios, Nina Kasimati, Dora Bakogianni, Vangelis Meimarakis, Costas Tzavaras, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Evangelos Venizelos, Liana Kanelli, Dimitris Kammenos and George Mavrotas.
PACE is the parliamentary arm of the Council of Europe, a 47-nation international organisation dedicated to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe includes non-European Union member states, such as Russia and Turkey and oversees the European Court of Human Rights.
The Greek servicemen were patrolling the only land borderline between the two countries in a heavily forested region, near Kastanies, on March 1st when they crossed the borders with Turkey due to bad weather conditions. After encountering a Turkish patrol unit, the officers were taken to the provincial gendarmerie command in Edirne and remain in custody since.