About 350 conscientious objectors to military service on religious grounds were imprisoned. All were prisoners of conscience. Legal proceedings continued in the case of 10 people prosecuted for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. Hundreds of people detained following a demonstration were reportedly not given a fair trial. There were further reports of torture and ill-treatment. One person died in police custody in disputed circumstances. People were shot by police and military forces in disputed circumstances. In January, Andreas Papandreou, leader of the Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima (PASOK), Panhellenic Socialist Party, resigned as Prime Minister owing to ill health. Kostas Simitis, who succeeded him as Prime Minister, was elected leader of PASOK in June and called for early elections in September, which his party won. There was no progress towards the introduction of an alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors to military service. About 350 Jehovah's Witnesses were serving prison sentences of up to four years for refusing to perform military service on religious grounds. Legal proceedings continued against 10 people who had been prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or religion. In March, Hara Kalomiri was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in Thessaloniki for "founding and operating a place of private worship for a Buddhist community in Chalkidiki without government permission". Hara Kalomiri remained free pending an appeal hearing. In May, Archimandrite Nikodimos Tsarknias was acquitted in Edessa on three charges of "impersonating a priest" (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Professor Georgos Roussis and actor Vassilis Diamantopoulos were tried in Athens in May for statements made during a television talk show, two days after clashes took place during a demonstration at Athens Polytechnic University in November 1995. They had defended calls for changes in society and publicly condemned the violence of police officers who beat a 16-year-old boy during his arrest. Although they were acquitted, an appeal against the verdict on Georgos Roussis was ordered. In October, the appeal court confirmed the acquittal. The appeal hearings of six members of the Organosi gia tin Anasingrotisi tou Kommounistikou Kommatos Elladas, Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece, due to take place in July 1996, were postponed until July 1997. There were allegations of irregularities in the trials of people arrested in connection with the November 1995 demonstrations at Athens Polytechnic University. More than 500 people had been detained by the police and charged with offences including disrupting public order and destroying a symbol of the state. The defendants were divided into groups of up to 40 and tried by different courts. The verdicts and sentences ranged from acquittal to 40 months' imprisonment, sometimes suspended. Both at the pre-trial and trial stages, the proceedings were in many respects not conducted in accordance with international human rights standards and Greek law. The families of those arrested were not immediately informed of the arrests and the location of detainees; detainees were not promptly notified of the charges against them and in some cases were not brought promptly before a judge. Defendants were not able to cross-examine prosecution witnesses at the trial and the prosecution failed to present, nor did the court cite, evidence of individual responsibility in support of the convictions. There were further allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by police and prison officials. There were numerous reports of beatings in police custody, which in one case resulted in death. At about 1am on 14 January police officers from Vyrona police station, Athens, detained Lütfi Osmance, a Greek national, who was reportedly drunk, vomiting and suffering from stomach pains. At 8am Lütfi Osmance was taken to hospital, but discharged. The prosecutor of Athens Criminal Court ordered him to be remanded in custody. In the evening, Lütfi Osmance was found dead in a cell at Vyrona police station. According to the autopsy report, Lütfi Osmance's head and face bore marks of beating. He had ruptured blood vessels and bruises around his right eye and an open wound on his right eyebrow, injuries which had not been observed by the hospital doctor who had examined him that morning. In October, the office of the Prime Minister referred the case to the Ministry of Public Order. In February, police raided a Roma camp in Aspropyrgos, near Athens, ostensibly in search of five men wanted for criminal offences. Members of the Special Anti-Terrorist Forces, wearing balaclavas and flak jackets and armed with knives and automatic weapons, reportedly stormed into the camp, slashed open tents and pointed pistols at people's heads. They swore at, kicked and beat Roma whom they had ordered to lie on the ground. An investigation into the incident was believed to have been ordered in March. In August, attacks took place against members of the Turkish minority in Komotini, apparently provoked by the killing of two Greek Cypriots in Cyprus on 11 and 14 August (see Cyprus entry). Emine Inceyizli, aged 70, and Saliha CansÚz, aged 60, were severely injured when a group of bikers attacked them and other members of the Turkish minority while police reportedly stood by. In October, Mohamed Farhank Amin, an Iranian refugee living in Germany, and his friend were allegedly ill-treated by seven police officers, one of them in civilian clothes, in a park in Neos Kosmos, Athens. The two men were grabbed by the hair, had their arms locked behind their backs and were hit on the face, legs and genitals before being taken to Nea Smyrni police station. There, Mohamed Farhank Amin was further beaten until he lost consciousness. There were reports of shootings by police and military forces in circumstances which appeared to indicate unwarranted and excessive use of force. In January, during an operation to round up Albanian illegal immigrants in Skala, Oropos, an unarmed Albanian was shot dead by police officers while attempting to escape. According to the police, one officer fired in the air to frighten the escapee. Another officer then also took out his gun and while jumping over a ditch lost his balance. A bullet from his gun hit the Albanian in the back, killing him. An investigation into the killing was believed to have been ordered. Amnesty International called on the authorities to release all conscientious objectors to military service and to introduce legislation on conscientious objection which fully reflected international recommendations. The organization called on the authorities to drop all outstanding charges against Archimandrite Tsarknias and Hara Kalomiri. In March, Amnesty International delegates observed two trials of people charged in connection with the demonstrations at Athens Polytechnic University. The organization called upon the authorities to hold new trials in accordance with international standards and to ensure effective implementation of international human rights standards at all stages of the proceedings in all criminal cases. Amnesty International urged the authorities to investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and shootings by law enforcement officials in disputed circumstances, and to bring to justice those responsible, but it had received no substantive response by the end of the year. In October, Amnesty International published a report, Greece: Unfair trials of people arrested at Athens Polytechnic University.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.