Court finds health minister guilty of defamation

Court finds health minister guilty of defamation

A first instance court in Athens has ordered Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis to pay 25,000 euros in compensation after finding him guilty of defaming the national federation of Greek hospital workers (POEDIN) and its president, Michalis Giannakos.

The case dealt with comments that Polakis had posted on Facebook in early January 2017 targeting Giannakos for statements he had made to the British Guardian newspaper regarding the state of the Greek health service.

In his social media post, Polakis called Giannakos “a fool” and accused him of telling “despicable lies,” adding that his “place is on the trash heap of history.”

POEDIN subsequently initiated legal proceedings against Polakis, accusing the minister of using “degrading, insulting and wholly inappropriate” language in his social media comment.

Awarding 5,000 euros to POEDIN and 20,000 euros to Giannakos in compensation on Monday, the court also ordered Polakis to publish a summary of its ruling on his personal Facebook account.

Condemning Polakis as a “common slanderer and a liar” and a “shield” for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, POEDIN announced after the vedict that it would donate half the compensation award to hospitals for the purchase of medical equipment and the remainder to the families of the victims of last month’s deadly fires in Attica.

Rejecting the court’s finding, Polakis announced that he would not publish a clarification on social media as he was appealing the verdict. Launching a fresh attack on Giannakos, the minister said nothing would stop him from cleansing the public health system of the “rodents” who had feeding off it for years.

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