Greece: Good News

Today, on 1 April 2005, the Military Court of Athens ruled in a trial of conscientious objector Sergey Gutarov, who had been arrested unexpectedly yesterday on charges of insubordination, that he "is innocent". Alexia Tsouni reports:

"I have just returned from the Military Court of Athens, today we had the trial of CO Sergey Gutarov who had suddenly been arrested yesterday and detained for insubordination. Sergey had served military service in the former Soviet Union and later became a Jehova's Witness so he refused to serve in the greek army when he was called. The greek law 2510/97 doesn't allow persons who have already served in the armed forces (in Greece or abroad) to apply for conscientious objectors. However, the court after a very fast trial (with only one defence witness) ruled (5-0) that he is innocent, as the prosecutor also proposed, due to "conflict of duties": the duty to serve the army and the duty to do what his religion supports (alternative service for JWs). This is the first such decision of military court in Greece for insubordination of CO having already served in the army and we welcome it hoping to apply also to the ideological COs, e.g. Monastiriotis.

As his lawyer informed me today, there is another trial of JW CO Dionisis Avlastimidis next week, 7 April 2005, in the Appeal Military Court of Athens. He had served military service in Greece in the past, he later became a JW and he now refused to serve the extra training on the new weapons."
Source: Email Alexia Tsouni, 1 April 2005