Greece: Repeal the conviction of conscientious objector Anastasios Batas

Brussels, 2 November 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 conscientious objector Anastasios Batas, member of the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors, who is on trial tomorrow before the Appeal Military Court of Athens.

Greek conscientious objector Lazaros Petromelidis will be present at the trial as EBCO’s observer. 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.

Anastasios Batas, who is 50 years old today, served in the Greek Naval Forces from March to December 1994 and then he was granted a one-year postponement. Before the expiry of his postponement, Anastasios Batas declared his conscientious objection and asked to serve alternative civilian service. There was no such law at that time so he was charged with insubordination because he didn’t return to complete his military service after his postponement expired. In 2012, when he was no more liable to conscription, the Naval Court of Piraeus sentenced him in absentia to 15-month imprisonment suspended for 3 years. His appeal against this decision is examined tomorrow before the Appeal Military Court of Athens.

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 Anastasios Batas.

EBCO’s President Friedhelm Schneider stated: «We hope that after decades of repressive court decisions against Greek conscientious objectors, the recent acquittal of Yiannis Glarnetatzis will have a trend-setting impact on the Batas case. 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».