NEWS

Civil War still on for Kalamata police

The government issued an apology of sorts yesterday to a 76-year-old Civil War veteran who was briefly arrested last week for deserting from the national army to fight with the communist guerrillas in 1949. «It is a typical example of bureaucracy,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said, after the Ethnos daily reported the story yesterday. «Following the prime minister’s intervention, an act will be issued dropping the charges.» According to the Ethnos report, Dimitris Vayias, who fled behind the Iron Curtain after the communist Democratic Army was defeated in 1949 – after three years of fighting – was arrested on Friday at his home in the southern Peloponnesian town of Kalamata on the strength of a 53-year-old arrest warrant. He was freed shortly afterward, following negotiations with senior officers. In 1988, Parliament issued an amnesty for Civil War crimes. A Moscow University-educated electrical engineer, Vayias returned from exile in Russia in 1988 to teach at the Kalamata Technical College. Born in the village of Ambelokipi, near Pylos in the southwestern Peloponnese, Vayias was arrested along with his father in 1946 after a fellow-villager denounced them for storing weapons for the communist guerrillas. His father was tortured and died in 1948. In early 1949, Vayias was conscripted into the national army and sent to fight the Democratic Army in the Grammos Mountains, near the Albanian border. In May, he deserted to the other side.