Greek army release details of arrest of 2 Turkish servicemen who strayed across border; subsequent return
Greece’s army general staff on Sunday evening provided details over a bizarre incident before 11 a.m. the same day, when two Turkish servicemen were arrested some 150 meters inside Greek territory – west of the Evros River – before being returned to the neighboring country in the afternoon.
The incident immediately drew comparisons with a similar incident in early March 2018, when two Greek servicemen strayed a few meters into Turkish territory along the poorly demarcated spot on the Greek-Turkish land frontier. The pair was arrested and kept in pre-trial detention in the Turkish border city of Edirne until mid August, without formal charges ever filed against them, only a lengthy prosecutor’s probe ensured and a handful of refusals by a Turkish first instance court to release them on bail. Initially, Turkish judicial officials hinted at espionage charges, only to fall back on the possibility of an indictment based on a charge of illegally entering a restricted military zone. In the end, no charge was filed.
According to a press release by the Greek military, a Turkish army NCO, bearing a firearm but without ammunition, was spotted and detained by members of a Greek army patrol.
The location of the incident was given as near the village of Ferres, in the central portion of the river border between the two countries.
Some three hours later, another Turkish serviceman, this time a reserve second lieutenant, was located and detained in the same spot. The second man was without either weapons or ammunition.
In a statement to Greek authorities, the first man claimed he got lost inside Greek territory, and the second said he came in search of the first.
After a cursory medical exam both men were transferred to Turkish authorities waiting at a border crossing at roughly 6.30 p.m. (16.30 GMT).
The press release added that Greek DM Panos Kammenos and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar spoke by phone during the day.
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