Two Turkish soldiers arrested for entering Greece illegally on Sunday have been released from custody, reports The Associated Press (AP).
Following their release, the Turkish army issued an official statement claiming that the soldiers had accidentally crossed the border while following migrants who they suspected where attempting to cross the border into Greece. They stated that both servicemen were detained at 11.00 am on Sunday – a claim that differed in the statement issued by the Greek army.
According to Greece, the first soldier – a non-commissioned officer reservist – who was armed with a rifle but no ammunition, was detained at 11.00 am on Sunday some 1,540 meters inside Greek territory. However the second soldier – a reserve officer trainee – was arrested carrying neither weapons nor ammunition three hours later, at 2.00 pm.
During their depositions, the first Turkish soldier claimed that he had lost his way, while the second soldier said he crossed the border as he had been searching for his fellow soldier.
The Turkish army said the soldiers were released after seven-and-a-half hours of talks with authorities, which was confirmed by the Greek army.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed by Greece that defence minister Panos Kammenos and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar were in contact prior to the soldiers’ release.
In an interview with the AP, a Greek army spokesman, who requested to remain anonymous, denied claims made in the media that there was an exchange of gunfire during the incident.
Sunday’s incident comes soon after two Greek soldiers were released to Greece pending trial after crossing the border into Turkey in March. Despite claiming that they crossed over by accident, and a number of appeals made to the court for their release, the Greek soldiers were detained in Turkey up until August.