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Law enforcement uncovers draft evasion scheme at Odesa Oblast court

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 9, 2024 8:20 PM 2 min read
Law enforcement detain a judge suspected of involvement in a draft evasion scheme at a court in Odesa Oblast on Jan. 9, 2024. (Security Service of Ukraine)
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A judge in Odesa Oblast has been detained on suspicion of taking bribes from men who wanted to avoid mobilization, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on Jan. 9.

Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not permitted to leave the country during martial law without special permission or in the case of some exceptions.

In exchange for a bribe, the judge at a district court in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi is thought to have issued a court document that established the man was a single father, according to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).

Single fathers are exempt from being drafted and are able to go abroad during martial law.

Investigators believe this scheme has been operating since mid-April 2022 and involved more than one court employee. "Searches are ongoing at the residential addresses of other possible participants in the scheme and at the courthouse," NABU said.

The pre-trial investigation established that "more than 1,000 decisions on this specific category of cases were issued in this court," according to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP).

Bribes ranged from $1,500 to $3,500 and evidence of the scheme could be found on Telegram channels, according to SAP.

If convicted, the judge or other court employees could face 10 years imprisonment.

Law enforcement agencies are intensifying efforts to combat draft evasion, as the military seeks to replenish its ranks amid the full-scale war with Russia.

Lawmakers are currently assessing various mobilization bills, which outline plans for further conscription and may tighten restrictions on draft evaders.

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