NEWS

Hunt is on for forged vaccine certificates

hunt-is-on-for-forged-vaccine-certificates

Worried that the number of cases of fake anti-Covid vaccination certificates may significantly exceed the 34 already revealed, the government has ordered the police’s Internal Affairs Division, which deals with public sector corruption, to investigate.

Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos met on Wednesday morning with division chief Major General Ilias Kossyvakis and said that the affair of fake certificates issued at a health center in central Greece should be promptly investigated, as there seem to be connections with similar cases in hospitals in northern Greece.

Independently, the Supreme Court’s Chief Prosecutor Vassilios Pliotas called on all prosecutors’ offices across Greece to investigate promptly and proactively any incidence of forged vaccination certificates and other illegal actions that include, but are not limited to, threats of violence against doctors by opponents of vaccination. Prosecutors are urged to visit the vaccination centers, independent of whether there is suspicion of illegal activities, both to familiarize themselves with their operations and act as deterrents. Pliotas also warned about the presence of gangs acting for financial gains, urging citizens to not vaccinate and refuse other medical services. 

The issue turned political on Wednesday, with the main opposition SYRIZA party voting against a government amendment imposing stricter penalties for fake certificates, including a €5,000 fine per fake certificate issued, and the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL) abstaining.

“I say it openly, they are winking at those who act illegally,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told Skai Radio. Government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou called the opposition parties’ stance “an act of extreme political hypocrisy and destructive opportunism. SYRIZA and KINAL are looking for votes even among the extremely delinquent and are indifferent to the damage done to the effort made so that we can all return to fully living our lives.”

SYRIZA lawmaker Andreas Xanthos, a former health minister, protested that his party supports the vaccination drive and voted against because of a provision that extends mandatory vaccinations and imposes penalties. KINAL said that they abstained because of the suspensions mandated for public health system doctors but not those in private practice. Socialist lawmaker Andreas Loverdos, who is challenging KINAL leader Fofi Gennimata in a party election later this year, said that, if he were present, he would have voted for the government’s amendment, “despite all its weaknesses.”