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War Resisters' International, London,

18 July 2008

GERMANY: Total objector receives fourth disciplinary arrest

German total objector Silvio Walther today began a fourth disciplinary arrest, this time of 21 days. Silvio Walther had been arrested by military police on 9 April 2008, and was transferred to 'his' unit in Bad Reichenhall. He first received a 7 day disciplinary arrest on 16 April, but refused the medical examination to determine whether he could be kept in arrest or not, and was therefore 'temporarily detained' in an arrest cell until the next day, when the disciplinary arrest began. Following this first disciplinary arrest, he received a second disciplinary arrest of 10 days on 25 April, lasting until 4 May. On 6 May Silvio received a third arrest, this time of 14 days.
After this third arrest Silvio Walther had to report again on 26 May, and the commander initiated a fourth arrest of 21 days. Because Silvio Walther was sick until 1 June, this arrest could not be enforced. On 2 June, the commander again initiated an arrest of 21 days, which was granted. However, Silvio Walther appealed against this arrest, which delayed the arrest. Instead, Silvio Walther was banned from serving until 9 June. On 17 June, he was informed by telephone that his appeal had been rejected, and that he should report to begin his arrest. However, Silvio Walther did so only today, on 18 July, and was immediately put under arrest.

His commander told him that they would also request a fifth disciplinary arrest.

It is the usual practice of the German military to impose consecutive disciplinary arrest on total objectors, up to a total of 63 days - and in some cases even 84 days - before the case is passed on to the criminal justice system for criminal prosecution, which can in theory lead to imprisonment of up to five years. In practice, imprisonment has been rare in recent years, with most sentences either being suspended sentences or fines.

The repeated disciplinary arrest for total objectors however is reason for concern. The official purpose of disciplinary arrest is to change the behaviour of the person concerned - it is not a means of punishment. Therefore, it is not according to the rules to impose disciplinary arrest when a change of behaviour cannot be expected. No case of a total objector is known where disciplinary arrest achieved a 'change of heart' - arrest therefore amounts to punishment and is illegal.

Silvio Walther is presently serving his fourth disciplinary arrest.

     War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Silvio Walther

Silvio Walther, 5./Gebirgsfernmeldebataillon 210, Artilleriekaserne, Nonner Strasse 23-27, 83435 Bad Reichenhall, Germany

     War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the German Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Jung, or German embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at

     War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Silvio Walther, and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International