- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) - A Greek court gave a suspended sentence Tuesday to a Turkish national who ran across the tense Greek-Turkish border after a drinking binge.

The 40-year-old man, who is of Kurdish origin, sprinted into Greece at the northeastern Kastanies border crossing just before midnight Monday, police said. The man told the court he had been drinking earlier, and that he would like to travel to Sweden, where his children live.

Local residents said Turkish soldiers apparently fired in the air while pursuing him.

A local misdemeanor court gave the man a four-month prison sentence, suspended for three years. He was placed in custody pending deportation to Turkey.

The incident came amid tension between the two historic regional rivals and NATO allies. Greece has boosted border patrols on its land border with Turkey after two Greek military personnel were arrested March 1 on the Turkish side of the border.

Greece said the men accidentally strayed across the ill-defined border due to bad weather, but both remain in a Turkish prison on charges of entering a military zone. Turkey has rejected suggestions it wants to swap them with eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece just after the failed coup in Turkey in 2016.

On Tuesday, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos accused Turkey of using the two as negotiating pawns.

“They should not be used as a means of pressure and blackmail against Greece,” he said.

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