PM talks tough on draft dodgers

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis ordered Defense Ministry officials yesterday to punish those involved in an alleged scam that helped men dodge their military service, sources said. Karamanlis told Defense Minister Evangelos Meimerakis to break up the suspected racket and «not to do anyone any favors.» The government is said to be re-examining tens of thousands of exemptions from obligatory military service for Greek men after an army colonel lieutenant was arrested last week for stealing draft documents – paperwork that can be modified to offer genuine exemption certificates. Opposition parties have accused the government of protecting those involved in the scandal by not making their names public. Press reports said that a number of well-known artists, politicians and journalists are believed to have dodged their military service and could be involved in the scandal. Ministry sources said Meimarakis supports the idea of publicizing the names of people caught with improper exemptions but is bound by privacy laws, which forbid this. The first results of the re-examination of exemptions, which date back to 1997, are expected toward the end of the month.

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