As we reported in the previous CO Update, conscientious objectors in Greece have been subject to new cycles of detention and trial since the beginning of the year. Last time, we reported on the situations of Nikos Karanikas, Charalabos Akrivopoulos, Menelaos Exioglou and Dimitris Sotiropulos. Several of them have faced more detentions and trails since then, and there is also news of other COs that have been targeted in the last two months, one of whom first declared his conscientious objector twenty years ago:
- Michalis Tolis is a a 30-year-old total objector. On 3rd June he was arrested and brought to the police station of Ioannina. The charge against him is insubordination. He was transferred to Athens and brought before the Military Court of Athens on Tuesday 4th June. The trial was postponed to today, Wednesday 5th June. The trial was postponed and the court will announce a new date probably in Autumn.
- 46-year old Lazaros Petromelidis was arrested and detained for one night on 20th June. He was fined 5431 euros, in lieu of a 1.5 year prison sentence. Lazaros is over the age at which people are obliged to join the army. His persecution has been over 20 years in duration. He has been to prison three times already, and been tried repeatedly.
- Nikos Karanikas who was first arrested for his conscientious objection 18 years ago, in 1995. On 22 February 2013 he once again faced prosecution in front of the military court of Thessaloniki for 'desertion'. Amnesty International, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and War Resisters' International made a statement condemning Nikos' prosecution, the day before his trial. You can read it here: http://www.wri-irg.org/NikosKaranikas. WRI also sent an observer, Lazaros Petromelidis, to this trial, and you can read his account here: http://www.wri-irg.org/node/21408. This trial resulted in Nikos' acquittal. However, soon after the proceedings against him, Nikos received a new call up paper. He was arrested again in Thessaloniki on 11 June, and he had his case postponed to Friday 14 June. He was released. The trial was then postponed again until 2nd July.
- 29-year-old Menelaos Exioglou is a total objector. He was originally called-up for military service in August 2010 and refused to serve both the compulsory military service and the substitute civilian service, which is still punitive and discriminatory against conscientious objectors in Greece. In December 2012, he was given a 4-month-imprisonment sentence suspended for one year. On 18 April '13 he was arrested again, then released. His trial was this week - on 20th June - in the military court in Athens. He was convicted to 5-month-imprisonment sentence suspended for one year, on charges of insubordination.
Please consider using our CO-Alert to put pressure on the Greek authorities to stop the persecution of conscientious objectors in Greece.
If you would like more of an understanding of the situation in Greece for COs, you may be interested in reading this article in The Broken Rifle: Crackdown on Greek COs was expected and may intensify.
Sources: European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, EBCO strongly condemns the continuous persecution of Greek conscientious objectors, 5 June 2013; Correspondence with Greek COs.