Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu who was sentenced to 20 days in prison after after he refused to pay a fine for not reporting for reserve army duty in the occupied north, will be released on Friday following a successful appeal by his lawyer.
Turkish Cypriot media report that a “military court” ruled on Friday to reduce Karapasaoglu’s sentence to time served.
Karapasaoglou’s lawyer, during the appeal hearing on Thursday argued that the initial decision violated articles 5 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the fair trial principle.
An appeals court has reduced Turkish #Cypriot constientious objector Halil #Karapasaoglu ‘s 20-day prison sentence to 3 days. Halil was arrested and sent to prison Tuesday after he refused to pay a fine for not joining reserve army duty. He is expected to be released #Cyprus
— Esra Aygin (@EsraAygin) January 18, 2019
Friends of Karapasaoglu and members of the public gathered outside the court on Thursday to support him. According to CNA, they are also expected to gather outside the prison from where Karapasaoglu will be released on Friday.
Speaking on behalf of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Murat Kanatli described the “court’s” decision as “very important” and said that it is necessary to continue dialogue over a new bill on conscientious objection.
The new bill was published on Thursday in the “official gazette” of the occupied north and citizens were asked to submit views and ideas to the “parliament” through its website until January 30.
Karapasaoglou was fined 2,000 Turkish lira (335 euro) on January 3 for refusing to report for reserve army duty between 2014-2017. If the fine was not paid within ten days, the sentence would have converted to 20 days in prison.
After exiting the court on January 3, Karapasaoglu stated that he would not pay the fine and explained that paying it would render his action meaningless. “They are sending me to jail because I don’t want to hold a gun. I’ve said that I will not fire a bullet at my friend Antonis” he stated.
He was arrested on Tuesday, January 15 and was sent to prison.
Following Karapasaoglu’s actions, Ali Kismir, the president of the Press Workers Union in the occupied north and Serkan Soyalan, the secretary general announced that they will become conscientious objectors.
Greek Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou raised the issue with responsible E.U. authorities.