Greek court postpones ruling over Turkey coup suspects

Turkish officers escorted into court

ATHENS - Greece's Supreme Court on Monday postponed an expected ruling on whether to extradite eight Turkish officers sought by Ankara over July's failed military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A justice source said the decision will be announced on Thursday as one of the presiding judges fell ill.
The case involves eight Turkish military officers who landed a helicopter in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis in July, a day after the botched coup against Erdogan.
Earlier in January, Supreme Court prosecutors had argued against sending the officers back to Turkey, citing fears about their safety and rights to an impartial trial.
The officers say that members of their families have been sacked from their jobs and had their passports confiscated.
They deny having taken part in the putsch and claim their lives are in danger.
Their applications for asylum in Greece in July were rejected but appeals are currently being processed.
The Supreme Court took over the case after an appeals court last month gave contradictory rulings on the case.
In three separate hearings under different judges, the appeals court elected to protect five of the officers but ordered the other three to be sent back.
Should the Supreme Court block Turkey's extradition request, its decision is final.
If the court decides in favour, however, any final decision will rest with Greece's justice minister, who may decide against extradition.
Since the coup, many Turkish military officers have requested asylum in other NATO countries.
Turkish authorities have arrested thousands of people since July with many thousands more having been sacked -- in particular journalists, teachers and police officers, over alleged links with the movement of Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup.
This case is awkward for Greece, which is working with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants through its territory towards western Europe.