GREECE: Conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelides on trial again
Greek conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelides will be in court again on 18 September 2003. Lazaros Petromelides applied for the status of conscientious objector in 1998. He was accepted, and called up for a substitute service 7.5 times longer than the military service he would have had to serve (30 months of substitute service instead of 4 months of military service). As a conscientious objector, the length of his substitute service was calculated based on the full time of military service, although he only would have had to serve 4 months instead of 18 months due to his age and the fact that he is the father of a child (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/18092002a.html). Lazaros Petromelides refused to accept this, and did not start his substitute service. He was arrested in April 1999 and sentenced to 4 years in prison. In June 1999 the military appeal court released him on bail, and postponed a decision due to promised changes of the Greek law on conscientious objection. Petromelides was finally sentenced to 20 months in prison on 12 June 2003, but the sentence was suspended. However, shortly after his release on bail in June 1999 Lazaros Petromelides was again called up for military service (as he refused to begin his substitute service, his CO status was revoked), which he refused. A new arrest warrant was issued for "insubordination".
Lazaros Petromelides now again faces trial, on 18 September 2003, at the Navy Martial Court of Thessaloniki. This second trial for what is basically the same "offence" - refusing to bear arms - is in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, and against UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2002/45, which states that states should refrain from using the judicial system to force conscientious objectors to change their convictions.
War Resisters' International calls for of protest to the Greek authorities. To send a protest letter to the Foreign Ministry of Greece, go
War Resisters' International calls on Greece to respect the right to conscientious objection according to international human rights standards, and to immediately stop proceedings against Lazaros Petromelides.
War Resisters' International
Prime Minister's Office
Irodou Attikou 19
George A. Papandreou
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Defence
A list of Greek embassies and consulates can be found at http://www.mfa.gr/english/the_ministry/missions/