Another Victory for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Greece
ON October 6, 1995, a legal case involving two full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses was heard by the three-member Magistrates’ Court in Athens. The charge was proselytism, and the suit had been filed by a police officer after the Witnesses visited his home.
The questions put forth by the presiding judge showed that she was very interested in the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, she asked: “How long have you been doing this work? How have people been treating you over the years? What kind of response has there been to your work? What do you say to people at their doors?” All present in the courtroom listened intently to the fine witness that was given.
Much to the Witnesses’ surprise, even the prosecutor spoke out in their favor. “Jehovah’s Witnesses have the constitutional right not only to believe in and worship their God,” he noted in his closing speech, “but also to spread their faith from door to door, in public squares, and on the streets, even distributing their literature free of charge if they so desire.” The prosecutor cited various decisions of acquittal issued by the courts and the Council of State. He also referred to the case of Kokkinakis v. Greece, which was decided in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the European Court of Human Rights.* “Please note,” warned the prosecutor, “that Greece even paid a fine in this case. So we should be very careful when called upon to judge such cases. In fact, these cases should never be brought to court in the first place.”
Following the prosecutor’s speech, there was not much left for the Witnesses’ lawyer to say. Nevertheless, he took the opportunity to emphasize that the proselytism law is unconstitutional and that it has been embarrassing Greece on an international scale.
The presiding judge simply glanced at the other two judges, and the brother and sister were unanimously acquitted. The trial, which lasted an hour and ten minutes, was a victory for both Jehovah’s name and his people.
This is the fourth acquittal involving proselytism cases after the Kokkinakis case was heard by the European Court of Human Rights. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Greece rejoice that problems in connection with their preaching are now virtually nonexistent and that it is possible to continue the work without hindrance.