Tue Apr 25, 2017 02:47PM
Turkish army officers leave the Supreme Court building in Athens escorted by Greek police after judges blocked their extradition to Turkey to face trial over their alleged involvement in the coup attempt of July 2016, January 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Turkish army officers leave the Supreme Court building in Athens escorted by Greek police after judges blocked their extradition to Turkey to face trial over their alleged involvement in the coup attempt of July 2016, January 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A court in Greece has rejected a file lodged by Turkey for the extradition of eight soldiers who fled during a coup attempt last year.

In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the appeals court blocked the extradition of three of the soldiers, who landed on a helicopter in Greece on July 16 and sought asylum.

The request is the second filed by Ankara in relation to the soldiers.

Greece’s top court blocked the extradition of all the eight men in January.

The appeals court is expected to rule on the remaining five soldiers in the coming weeks.

The court said the new ruling was based on the same facts that had been considered in the first extradition file.

Eight Turkish army officers are escorted by Greek police as they arrive at the Greek Supreme Court in Athens, January 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey accuses the three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors of involvement in efforts to overthrow the government.

Turkish prosecutors say the eight violently seized a helicopter and were planning to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The soldiers also face charges of attempting to abrogate the constitution and dissolve parliament.

More than 250 people were killed in the process of the coup on July 15, 2016. Ankara swiftly blamed rogue elements in the army, saying they were operating as part of a larger network run by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric.

Thousands of military and police officers have been jailed or dismissed from their jobs over an alleged role in the coup. The eight who fled to Greece have repeatedly claimed that they feared for their lives back home.

Turkey and Greece have a history of strained relations, especially with regards to territorial disputes and the situation in the technically-split Cyprus. Turkey has warned that it would cancel agreements with Greece on the repatriation of refugees if the renegade soldiers are not sent back.