The Greek Navy Captain Who Refused To Become Involved In The 1999 Bombing Of Serbia

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The Greek Navy Captain Who Refused To Become Involved In The 1999 Bombing Of Serbia

Photo: Greek Navy captain Marinos Ritsoudis refused to participate in the bombing of Yugoslavia in any way. Credit: Instagram/Greek Reporter


In 1999 NATO became involved in its most extensive military campaign since its creation in 1949, the bombing of Serbia. The mission had come about after evidence began to emerge that Serbian forces had been carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign against ethnic Albanians in the disputed southern region of Kosovo.


Foreign governments had previously come under strong criticism for not intervening early enough in the 1994 war in Bosnia in which Bosnian independence supporters and Serbian nationalists, with the assistance of the Serbian state, had engaged in a brutal conflict, which included the massacre of 10,000 Bosnian Muslims by Serbian nationalists.


While Greece did not involve itself directly in the NATO offensive the nation did supply warships that were designed to blockade Serbia in the Adriatic Sea.


Shocking NATO allies and the Greek government the captain of the warship 'Themistoklis', that was sent by Greece to impose the blockade, and tacitly involve itself in the war, refused to participate and turned the ship around.


Greek Navy Captain Marinos Ritsoudis became famous overnight for his actions, and that of his crew, and he was soon arrested for refusing military orders.


Taken before the court the sailors only received a suspended sentence while Ritsoudis was jailed for two and a half years.


In the courtroom, the captain laid out his opposition to the war, saying:


"I had two paths to choose from. I chose the one you have above you (pointing at a picture of Christ in the courtroom). Which I put above all, because the law of God is above all."


Ritsoudis refused financial compensation on behalf of the Serbian government and retired to become a civilian yacht captain. Today a picture of him sits in the centre of the Serbian capital Belgrade.


While support for the war was strong across Europe, many Greeks opposed the war on the basis that it was conducted against the Serbs who were regarded by some as Orthodox Christian brethren.


Kosovo now has semi-independent status, though it is not recognised as an independent nation at the United Nations, a status denied by Russia and China.


[Based on reporting by: Greek Reporter]


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Thinking Humanity: The Greek Navy Captain Who Refused To Become Involved In The 1999 Bombing Of Serbia
The Greek Navy Captain Who Refused To Become Involved In The 1999 Bombing Of Serbia
In 1999 NATO became involved in its most extensive military campaign since its creation in 1949, the bombing of Serbia. The mission had come about aft
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