A Christian evangelist in Greece has been sentenced to four months in prison and fined 840 euros for sharing the gospel.
According to international human rights attorney, Vassilios Tsirbas, Damavolitis Emmanuel, a Pentecostal Christian and the father of six children from age 30 to 11 years old, was charged with a violation of the Greek anti-proselytizing law. He was found guilty after a trial and sentenced to four months in prison. The prison term was held until the appeals court could hear the case and make a determination. The appeals court hearing was held today.
According to Attorney Trisbas “this is a very sad day for freedom of religion in Greece. The court’s decision reinforces the belief that freedom of religion and freedom of speech do not exist in Greece for evangelical Christians.
“Today the court of appeals in Crete was convened and issued it’s ruling. Now, we must turn to the international courts to restore the fundamental freedoms that are guaranteed in Greece.”
According to Attorney Trisbas, “After many years Greece once more remembered the old days of it’s intolerance against churches other than the State Church, and came down hard on believers who thought they had the freedom to share their faith with their fellow citizens.
“The Court of Appeals of Rethymno, in Crete convicted Mr. Emmanuel and sentenced him to four months in prison and a fine of 840 Euros for allegedly proselytizing another man; convincing him to become a Pentecostal believer. The event, for which Mr. Emmanuel was convicted took place in a rural mountainous area of Crete, in 2006. This particular area is known for it’s resistance to the rule of law.”
At today’s hearing the prosecutor mocked the defendant for “having the peculiar enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,” and declared that the defendant was not allowed to sit in a coffee place sharing his faith with a friend.
Attorney Tsirbas is currently determining what is the next best step for his client. The case is now at a point where it can be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
The Greek Orthodox Church is country’s official church and is protected by the nation’s laws.
Emmanuel’s attorney said the ruling shows there is no freedom of religion or speech for Christians who do not belong to the state church.
The case may be heard by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.