Polakis Faces Suit, Calls For Ousting After Castigating Wheelchair Candidate

Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis, FILE)

ATHENS – Embattled Greek Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, under fire for saying a wheelchair-bound New Democracy candidate for the European Parliament used his disability to get public sector job, will be sued over the comments.

The National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities (ESAA) said it would take legal action against Polakis, a surgeon who is with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and has a history of provoking outrage for vicious attacks on party rivals and enemies.

“ESAA considers that the unacceptable statement of Pavlos Polakis on the measures to protect people with disabilities … is rife with racism and violates existing laws,” the union said in a statement.

In a Facebook post Polakis accused 34-year-old New Democracy candidate Stelios Kymbouropoulos, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child, of abusing equal hiring laws in order to be appointed to the Greek national health service (ESY).

Kymbouropoulos at the age of 14 was the first wheelchair-bound honor student to carry the Greek flag in the annual school parade on the October 28 national holiday. He went on to graduate from the Athens School of Medicine with honors in 2012 and was appointed as a psychiatric attendant at Attica General Hospital in 2016.

Another New Democracy candidate for European Parliament, former party leader Vangelis Meimarakis, said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should have ejected Polakis from the government over what he said.

“Polakis’ comments were vulgar… Tsipras should have sacked him or asked him to submit his resignation,” Meimarakis told Skai TV, adding that Tsipras, who is reeling in the polls after repeatedly reneging on anti-austerity vows, will be burdened more by his minister.

New Democracy has said it will file a censure motion against Polakis over the comment who was defended to the hilt by Tsipras, who said his minister was just “abrupt,” although another SYRIZA lawmaker, former education minister Nikos Filis, lashed out at his colleague over the remarks.

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