Greece: Repeal the conviction of the President of the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors Yiannis Glarnetatzis

Brussels, 20 October 2015

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) condemns once again the unacceptable practice of the Greek authorities to target and prosecute conscientious objectors. EBCO demands the repeal of the conviction of the President of the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors Yiannis Glarnetatzis, who is on trial tomorrow before the Appeal Military Court of Thessaloniki.

EBCO more generally demands the dismissal of the charges against all conscientious objectors in Greece, a country where the institution of alternative service remains punitive and constitutes discrimination against conscientious objectors.

Moreover, EBCO is extremely disturbed that the prosecution of Yiannis Glarnetatzis took place in a hearing at which he was not present, having not received the summons to attend, sent to an outdated address; and this despite the fact that the Greek authorities were clearly aware of his current address, to which the bill for the costs of the trial were sent after his conviction in absentia.

The European Union, as well as the Council of Europe and the United Nations, have recognised the right of conscientious objection to military service, and that conscientious objectors may be required to perform alternative service which in its nature or duration should not be more onerous than the equivalent military service. No alternative of this nature was ever offered to Yiannis Glarnetatzis.

The application of appeal of conscientious objector Yiannis Glarnetatzis, President of the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors and former Vice-President of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, is examined before the Appeal Military Court of Thessaloniki on Wednesday 21 October 2015. At first instance, on 19 September 2013, Yiannis Glarnetatzis was sentenced on insubordination charges to one year imprisonment suspended for two years. The trial took place in absentia, since the summons and, then, the judgment were sent to an outdated address, and not to the current one, which he had declared himself in the military court a few months before the trial, when he testified as a witness in defence of consciousness objector Nikos Karanikas. So, not only he was sentenced without defending himself, but the conviction was considered final, leading further to the removal of his political rights for the period of the suspension, since insubordination is the only misdemeanour punishable by this penalty. Eventually Yiannis Glarnetatzis was informed about his conviction by the taxation authorities, who found him in the right direction to pay the judicial costs a few months later. Immediately after that Yiannis Glarnetatzis filed an appeal, which was deemed within the deadline by decision of the Appeal Military Court on 23 October 2014.

EBCO’s President Friedhelm Schneider who at present takes part in the deliberations of the UN Human Rights Committee on Greece stated: «It is high time that Greek authorities stop their scandalous violation of European Human Rights standards and end their obsessive persecution of conscientious objectors to military service».