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Alleged members of army exemption ring under police investigation

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A second person, a retired military doctor, has been arrested in connection with a ring offering families a way to pay their son’s way out of the army, it came to light on Wednesday.

The 70-year-old retired doctor was arrested on Friday and later remanded in police custody for six days.

This was two days after the arrest of a 58-year-old, reportedly connected to the defence ministry, over his alleged involvement in the ring.

Defence Minister Charalmbos Petrides said on Friday the younger man was never an employee of the ministry.

“I understand that this person was not an employee of the ministry but a collaborator who had some relationship with another person from the ministry 15 years ago,” the minister said.

Defence ministry spokesperson Christos Pieris told Alpha television on Wednesday that after receiving complaints from families who realised they were being scammed, the ministry urged them to go to the police.

“Some went and paid money to this person in order to secure suspension for their children over health reasons. These are high level athletes in big teams who wanted to continue their career in sports and their military service,” he said.

The spokesman said the 58-year-old was at the ministry doing messenger work… “he was very likely affiliated with a political party”.

Some reports said the suspect is indeed a party official and was involved in the ministry dealing with matters relating to suspensions and exemptions as well as with promotions and transfers of officers.

It was further clarified that these cases occurred some years ago but only came to light now because of the adoption of a bill in 2018 that sought to close loopholes in the medical exemptions and suspensions from the army. However, the ring in question found a new way to facilitate exemptions in the new bill.

Referring to the 70-year-old’s occupational status, HIO officer Maria Kythreotou confirmed on Alpha television that the 70-year-old is currently a specialist doctor under Gesy.

“We have been called by the police to assist in the investigation of this case. The said individual is a specialist doctor contracted with Gesy. We will look at our legal provisions to see if there is a legal basis for the suspensions of its contract,” she said.

Both men are under investigation for crimes including extortion of money through false representations and conspiracy to commit a crime and corruption.

 

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