- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A Greek court agreed Tuesday to the extradition of three Turkish servicemen from a group of eight who fled to Greece after a failed July 15 military coup, a day after rejecting Turkey’s extradition request for three others.

All eight helicopter crewmen deny participating in the coup and a plot to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They fled to Greece by helicopter and maintain they will not have a fair trial in Turkey.

The three are to appeal, and are being held in custody until then. Separately, a prosecutor filed an appeal against Monday’s decision not to extradite the other three servicemen. A decision on that appeal is expected within eight days, and they, too, will remain in custody until a final decision is made. The court is expected to decide on the case of the remaining two in coming days.

The Athens council of appeals judges approved Turkey’s extradition request for three of the group on charges of being involved in the coup, attempting to impede a parliamentary session and the seizure of a helicopter. It rejected the charge of involvement in an assassination attempt against Erdogan. The council consisted of a different panel of judges than those who issued Monday’s decision not to extradite the other three members of the group.

Turkey has been pressing for the extradition of all eight, accusing them of being involved in the coup attempt it says was orchestrated by followers of self-exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. The issue has further strained relations between the two NATO allies, which are at odds over a series of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and over the fate of the divided island of Cyprus.

Following Monday’s decision not to extradite three, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik stressed Ankara’s interest in seeing them all sent back to Turkey.

“Our expectation from the Greek government is to display every kind of effort possible for (the eight) to be returned,” Isik said.

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