PM irate at ‘base’ Civil War arrest

In a strongly-worded statement yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis voiced deep annoyance at last week’s brief arrest for desertion of a Civil War veteran who switched sides to fight for the communist guerrillas in 1949. The statement from Simitis’s office described the ordeal of Dimitris Vayias, 76, last Friday as «an act of political baseness.» The PM instructed Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to fully investigate the incident which he called a «remnant of the post-Civil War era.» Vayias, whose family allegedly cached arms for the communists in 1946 – for which his father was brutally tortured – was conscripted into the national army in 1949 (three years after the war broke out) and sent to fight the Democratic Army in Epirus. He made his way over to the rebels shortly afterward, following whose defeat later that year he went into exile behind the Iron Curtain until 1988. Vayias was arrested in Kalamata on the basis of a warrant by a Larissa military prosecutor, but released the same day. Civil War crimes were amnestied in 1988.

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