ATHENS, Greece — A Greek court on Friday rejected an extradition request for the first of nine suspected left-wing militants from Turkey who were arrested in November, a few days before a visit to Athens by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The court accepted the recommendation by prosecutor Efstathia Kapagianni that Mehmet Dogan, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, should not be extradited as he had already been granted refugee status in France and was at risk of torture or inhumane treatment if he were returned to Turkey.
The nine suspects were arrested for alleged links to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union have deemed a terrorist organization. The arrests took place about a week before Erdogan’s visit to Greece in early December.
They were charged with terrorism-related offenses, forgery, arms and explosives possession and resisting arrest. All denied the charges.
Defense lawyer Marianna Tzeferakou said Turkey had been seeking Dogan’s extradition based on a six-year prison sentence imposed for various acts related to the support of terrorism. She said the conviction was for writing a slogan on a cemetery wall and for attempting to help someone cross a dam. He had already served three of the six years in pre-trial detention. Tzeferakou attributed all charges to political motivation.
During his testimony, Dogan showed the court his glass eye, saying it replaced the eye he had lost during a crackdown on a prison uprising in 2000.
The court will hear the extradition case for a second suspect on Tuesday. All nine have been held in custody since their arrests.