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Conscientious objector Halil Savda sentenced to five months in prison for speaking in support of Israeli conscientious objectors

(BIANET/IFEX) - Halil Savda, a conscientious objector, who is already in jail for supporting other conscientious objectors, was sentenced on 2 June 2008 to five months in prison for supporting two Israeli conscientious objectors.

Sultanahmet First Court of First Instance in Istanbul sentenced Halil Savda to six months in prison for supporting in a press statement two Israeli conscientious objectors, Itzik Shabbat and Amir Paster, who objected to Israel's occupation of Lebanon.

The court found Halil Savda guilty of "alienating people from military service" in accordance with Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code for his statement in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul on 1 August 2006. The sentence was reduced to five months for good conduct.

Savda could not be present at the 2 June hearing, as he was arrested on 27 March to serve an 11-and-a-half month prison sentence, which was given to him for taking part in a press conference demanding the release of Ismail Saygi, another conscientious objector. Kadriye Doğru, a lawyer from the Istanbul Bar, represented him. Doğru told Bianet that they appealed the decision.

Previously sent to Kasımpaşa Military Prison and later transferred to Çorlu Closed Prison, Savda is expected to be transferred to Saray Prison in the coming days.

His words that "Yes, I repeat my 'do not do your military service' call. . . . I emphasize clearly and without a 'but' or without making categorisations of 'just-unjust' or 'clean-dirty' that all wars and armed organisations are bad and dirty" led to his trial.

"Alienating people from military service" was a crime under Article 155 of the old Turkish Penal Code. This charge still exists under Article 318 of the new penal code that went into effect on 1 June 2005.

According to the article, "Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years. If the act is committed through the medium of the press and media, the penalty shall be increased by half."

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