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Three of the eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece last July in a helicopter and requested asylum after a failed military coup against the Turkish government, are transferred in a police convoy to a court in Athens, Greece, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis


ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek appeals court ruled on Tuesday against Ankara's request to extradite three of eight Turkish soldiers who fled across the border to Greece after last year's failed coup attempt.

In January, Greece's top court had blocked the extradition of all eight men, who Turkey alleges were involved in efforts to overthrow the government. Ankara then filed a second extradition request.

The court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on the five cases remaining from the second request

The three majors, three captains and two sergeant-majors landed a helicopter in Greece on July 16 and sought asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey, where a purge of the military and civil service was launched after the failed coup attempt.

They have been accused in Turkey of attempting to abrogate the constitution, attempting to dissolve parliament, seizing a helicopter by violent means and attempting to assassinate President Tayyip Erdogan. They deny any involvement.

Addressing the court on Tuesday, the prosecutor rejected Turkey's request, saying the same facts had been considered by the appeals committees who ruled on the first request.

The months' long case has highlighted the often strained relations between the two NATO allies, which remain at odds over issues from territorial disputes to ethnically-split Cyprus.

Turkey has threatened measures including scrapping a bilateral migration deal with Athens if the soldiers are not sent back.

(Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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The citizens' meeting

The citizens' meeting

The citizens' meeting