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Regression in Greece

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Over the past months, there has been a dramatic upswing in the persecution of conscientious objectors in Greece. All of those listed below have already been tried or imprisoned, some over twenty years ago, and they now face further legal action against them.

These cases include

  • 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: WRI also sent an observer, Lazaros Petromelidis, to this trial, and you can read his account here: This trial resulted in Nikos' acquittal. However, soon after the proceedings against him, Nikos received a new call up paper. Since he will again refuse to join the armed forces, it is likely that a he will be prosecuted again.
  • Charalabos Akrivopoulos, who arrested on 19 March and soon after tried for insubordination. He had already been sentenced on insubordination charges by the Naval Court of Piraeus to 8-month imprisonment suspended for two years in March 2011 – so he was coming to the end of this sentence. A statement from the EBCO described this arrest and hasty trial 'a bit before the end of the suspended sentence' as 'an act of singular cynicism.' Charalabos was freed on 21st March, with his trial postponed until October. However, even before his trial has started, a new call came for him to enlist for the next day. That means that (he is now again “illegal”, and at risk of arrest).
  • Menelaos Exioglou: 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, and on 18 April he was arrested again. He has now been released, and his trial is suspended until 30 April.
  • Dimitris Sotiropulos, arrested for draft evasion in 1994. His trial is scheduled for May 28th, and WRI will be spending an observer to his trial. This proceeding has begun despite the fact that he has been exempt from military service since 2008, as he is a father of 3 children.

Moreover, Menelaos, Charalambos and Nikos have all been fined by the Greek courts for draft evasion. If you owe more than 5000 Euros to the Greek state, you can be imprisoned by the civic courts - so this represents another way in which these COs might be targeted.

There will be an article in the upcoming edition of The Broken Rifle, putting this situation in the context of the national situation in Greece at the moment, and exploring why antimilitarists in particular are being targeted.

Sources: European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, EBCO shocked over the arrest and detention of Greek conscientious objector Charalabos Akrivopoulos, 20 March 2013; War Resisters' International, Greek conscientious objector on trial for 'desertion', 22 February 2013; EBCO, EBCO shocked over the arrest and detention of Greek conscientious objector Charalabos Akrivopoulos, 20 March 2013; EBCO, EBCO deeply regrets the conviction of Greek conscientious objector Menelaos Exioglou by military court, 18 December 2012.