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CYPRUS: Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector freed from jail.

Turkish Cypriot conscientious objector Halil Karapasaoglu was released from prison on Friday after being sent to prison for not paying a 2000 TL (EUR 360) fine imposed by a military court in the north of Cyprus for refusing to participate in reservist duties.

The conscientious objector had refused to serve in the Turkish army as a reservist in Cyprus from 2014-2017.

Karapasaoglu, 33, was given 10 days to pay or spend three weeks in prison, he chose the latter.

After spending three days in prison in the north, Karapasaoglu was released after appealing his conviction. The court reduced Karapasaoglu's sentence from 20 days to three, resulting in his immediate release.

He was arrested on Tuesday morning after receiving a phone call from Turkish Cypriot police. Reportedly, the conscientious objector told the officers that he would welcome them into his home where he was awaiting them.

Karapasaoglu's defiance had raised public awareness and a reaction from parties, even those participating in the Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition.

As a result, a majority of the Turkish Cypriot assembly backed legislation which would allow conscientious objectors alternatives to completing their military service and reservist duties.

Legislation is expected to be passed sometime in March, while calls were made for a pardon to be given to Karapasaoglu, as a few months from now refusing to serve in the military on the grounds of conscientious objection will not be a crime in the north.

Karapasaoglu a known peace and anti-militarist activist in the Turkish-held north wanted to send out a message of peace and reconciliation with the Greek Cypriots.

As he had said when he was first arrested: "They are prosecuting me because I refuse to hold a gun, I refuse to fire a bullet at my (Greek Cypriot) friend Antonis."

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Jan 18, 2019
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