Greek CO found guilty of insubordination

In Greece, conscientious objector Dimitris K. Sotiropoulos has been found guilty again of insubordination by a military court, and given a ten month suspended sentence. The nature of the trial was heavily criticised by those in attendance.

Sam Biesemans, the vice-president of the European Bureau of Conscientious Objectors (EBCO) said, “this was by definition an unfair trial and a public demonstration of militocracy. Not only a military court judged a civilian, which is a major human rights violation itself, but it didn’t even allow the unhampered defense of the conscientious objector. The military court was continuously and repeatedly restricting, interrupting and stopping the witnesses, the defense lawyer and the defendant himself, even during his apology, when he was trying to explain his incentives for the actions he is charged with”.

Sotiropoulos, 48 years old and a founding member of the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors (www.antirrisies.gr), has refused to enlist since 1992, declared publicly his opposition to violence and militarism, and asked to perform an equal alternative civilian service. At first instance, on 13 May 2014, and having already been exempted from conscription as a father of 3 children, he was convicted on an insubordination charge and sentenced to 10-month suspended imprisonment, 23 years after his initial insubordination.

Sotiropoulos is not the only conscientious objector who is under prosecution in Greece. At least two more conscientious objectors will be put on trial in June by military courts on insubordination charges. In addition, several conscientious objectors on ideological grounds have their applications for civilian service rejected by the Minister of Defence following negative opinions by the relevant Special Committee of the Ministry of Defence.

Source: European Bureau of Conscientious Objectors http://www.ebco-beoc.org/node/368, 16 June 2015