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Greek supreme court rejects extradition request for Turkish servicemen

Greece's supreme court has rejected an extradition request for eight Turkish servicemen who fled by helicopter after last year's coup attempt.

Presiding judge Giorgos Sakkas said the servicemen are unlikely to face a fair trial if returned to Turkey.

The eight officers fought extradition in a six-month legal battle, arguing that they face mistreatment in prison if returned.

Lower courts issued mixed decisions on the return of the officers in a series of separate hearings.

Justice minister Stavros Kontonis had said earlier that he would respect the court decision and not make use of executive powers in the case.

The case has further complicated ties between neighbours and Nato allies Greece and Turkey, which remain at odds over war-divided Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea.

Ahead of the decision, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said he expected the servicemen to be returned.

He said: "Our greatest expectation is for the coup plotters to be delivered to the Turkish judicial (authorities). We shall be following the results of this case.

"These coup plotters should not go unpunished."

Court officials said the extradition case was highly unlikely to be heard at a higher level.

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