GREECE: Conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelides was arrested on 17 September


War Resisters' International learned today from the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors that CO Lazaros Petromelides (GR12008) was arrested unexpectedly on 17 September 2002.

On 17 September the Military Court of Appeal was due to hear an appeal against the four-year prison sentence given to Lazaros Petromelides in April 1999 by the Naval Court of Piraeus on charges of "insubordination in times of general mobilisation" (legally speaking Greece is still in a state of general mobilisation against Turkey).[1] Lazaros Petromelides' trial was postponed from 16 April 2002 until 17 September.

Petromelides went to the trial and asked for postponement, on the grounds that both his lawyers were unable to attend the trial. The Military Court of Appeal of Athens decided to postpone the trial (the date is unknown yet) but also decided to hold him in custody pending trial due to an arresting warrant for "insubordination in time of general mobilisation of the armies".

This is the third arrest of Lazaros Petromelidis since 1998, when he applied for the Status of Conscientious objector, according to the clauses of the law 2510/1997. He was held in custody illegally for several days, then he was released.

He then was called up to serve a civilian service 7,5 times longer than the military service he ought to serve (30 months of civilian service instead of 4 months of military service). As conscientious objector the time of a complete military service was the base for the calculation of his civilian service. Lazaros Petromelides would have had to serve 4 months instead of 18 due to his age and to the fact that he is the father of one child; but he had to serve a civilian service of double duration (36 months instead of 18).

Lazaros refused to accept such a discrimination and didn't start his civilian service, claiming equal treatment. He was arrested on April 1999 and was condemned by the First Instance Military Court of Athens to 4 years in prison. In June 1999, his case was judged in appeal by the Second Instance Military Court of Athens and postponed by decision of the Court, because the Ministry of National Defence had promised changes to the Law 2510/1997. Lazaros Petromelides was released on bail.

Some days later he was again called up to perform military service and he refused. He was declared once again insubordinate and a new arrest warrant was issued against him for "insubordination in time of general mobilisation of the armies".

The Association of Conscientious Objectors consider that such a Kafkaesc situation is due to the Government's will not to respect the law 2510/1997 (All the petitions for the status of conscientious objector since 1999, except those presented by Jehovah's Witnesses were rejected). Also law 2510/1997 does not recognise the right of conscientious objectors to perform a civilian service of reduced duration, in case they are parents or (and) older than 35 years, proportionally to the clauses for conscripts.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Lazaros Petromelides. Emails can be sent to the Greek Association of COs at .

War Resisters' International calls for protest letters to the Greek authorities, especially the following:

Prime Minister Costas Simitis,
Megaro Maximou

Minister of Foreign Affairs
George Papandreou
5 Vas. Sofias Av.
Fax: +30-10-3611180

Minister of Justice
Philippos Petsalnikos
Mesogeion Av.

Minister of National Defence
Yannos Papadoniou
Mesogeion Av. N.Psychico
Fax: +30-10-6443832

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Lazaros Petromelides and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

[1] See GR12008-090402, 9 April 2002 -