GREECE: Conscientious objector sentenced to 5 months in prison
The Naval Court of Piraeus yesterday sentenced Giorgios Monastiriotis for desertion. He was sentenced to 5 months' imprisonment on suspension in case of appeal. This means that Monastiriotis has now been sentenced twice for the same 'offence'.
Monastiriotis, who had joined the Greek Navy on a five year contract, had refused, citing conscientious reasons, to follow his unit in May 2003 when the frigate "Navarino", on which he was serving, was sent to the Persian Gulf. He is the first Greek professional soldier known to refuse to participate in the recent war in Iraq on the basis of his conscientious objection and to declare his resignation from the Navy for this reason.
In his public refusal in May 2003, Monastiriotis had stated that: "I consider that my participation in this mission consists of collaboration in the murdering of the Iraqi people. I refuse on grounds of conscience to participate in or contribute by any means to the relentless massacre of the Iraqi people, in a war that is not finishing, since even now, after its official end, people, even children are still being killed... My refusal is also a minimal act of solidarity with the Iraqi people as well as to the peaceful sentiments of the Greek people."
Although Greece recognises the right to conscientious objection in principle - albeit with a lot of limitations and problems in practice - this does not apply to professional soldiers, who cannot claim their right to conscientious objection.
Moreover, Monastiriotis' sentence for desertion is his second sentence for the same offence, which is in contradiction to Article 14 paragraph 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country."
Therefore, War Resisters' International calls for the suspension of his sentence and asks people to send 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/20050118c.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
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