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[ on conscientious objectors facing repression ]
18 May 2005
Greece: Courts go mad: New sentences against conscientious objectors
While the international conscientious objectors' movement focused on the situation of conscientious objectors in Greece for International Conscientious Objectors' Day - 15th May - the Greek courts embarked on a new wave of ridicilous punishments for conscientious objectors, in complete ignorance of any international standards.
On 18 May, conscientious objector Nikos Baltoukas (GR14729) was sentenced by the Military Court of Xanthi to 15 months' (!) imprisonment for refusing to perform one week (!) of military reserve duty. Nikos Baltoukas, who is 37, had performed his military service in 1990-91. When he was called up for reserve duty on 31 October 2004, he refused to report, based on reasons of conscience. He was thus charged with insubordination, which now lead to the sentence of 15 months.
Andreas Anastasiou (GR14730), a Jehovah's Witness, was sentenced on 17 May by the Military Court in Larissa to six months' imprisonment, also for refusing reserve duty. He too has already served his military service in the Greek army prior to becoming a Jehovah's Witness.
Makedonas Alexandridis (GR 14731), also a Jehovah's Witness, was sentenced on 10 May by the Military Court of Ioannini to six months' imprisonment for insubordination and disobedience. Makedonas Alexandridis has performed military service in Russia prior to moving to Greece and becoming a conscientious objector. He applied for conscientious objector status, but the Greek CO law (law 2510/97) excludes anyone who has previously served in any armed forces from the right to conscientious objection.
In April, two decisions by the Military Court of Athens and the Military Appeal Court of Athens gave the impression of new insights by the Greek military courts. In the very similar cases of Dionisis Avlastimidis and Sergey Gutarov, the courts came to the conclusion that both could not be punished, as they only had followed their conscience. The new sentences now bury any hope for more understanding from the Greek courts.
To top the list of recent events, Greek police arrested conscientious objector Georgios Koutsomanolakis (GR14732), who is living in Germany, on the island of Rhodes on 12 May during a visit to Greece, based on charges for insubordination dating back to 1979. Georgios Koutsomanolakis was transferred to Korydallos prison in Athens, where he remains imprisoned awaiting his next trial on 23 May.
War Resisters' International is appalled by this new wave of punishments against conscientious objectors in Greece. Only recently, the UN Committee for Human Rights called on Greece to improve the situation of conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Greek authorities, and Greek embassies abroad. A list of Greek embassies can be found at http://www.mfa.gr/english/the_ministry/missions/. You can send a protest email to Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece, at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050518a.html.
War Resisters' International
Contact for protest letters:
Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece Maximos Mansion (‘Megaro Maximou’)
19, Herodou Attikou str
GR-106 74 Athens
Background information on CO in Greece:
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation
War Resisters' International
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tel +44-20-7278 4040 - fax +44-20-7278 0444
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