Turkish court rules against release of jailed Greek soldiers

A Turkish court in Edirne province ruled on Tuesday against the release of two Greek soldiers awaiting trial on charges of military espionage and illegally crossing the Turkish border.

Greek Lt. Aggelos Mitretodis and non-commissioned officer Dimitros Kouklatzis were detained after being discovered by patrolling Turkish troops near Pazarkule on March 1. The two Greek soldiers, who say they lost their way in the fog, were charged with espionage after crossing the border on March 2, 2018.

According to reports in Turkish media, Mitretodis and Kouklatzis were brought to the Edirne Courthouse under heavy security. Their lawyers, Hakan Yalçıntuğ and Selin Özel, also attended the hearing. The Greek soldiers asked for their release during their plea, claiming that they passed the border by mistake.

Turkish soldiers reportedly found Mitredotis and Kouklatzis taking photos for espionage purposes in a forbidden military zone. Since their arrest, the two soldiers have been held in Edirne’s maximum-security prison, separate from other inmates.

The arrests have further strained relations between the two neighbouring NATO allies who have longstanding disputes over maritime boundaries and commercial rights. Greece has asked for assistance from the European Union, NATO and the United Nations for the soldiers’ release.

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