Greece's High Court Moves to Stop Anti-Vaxxers Intimidation Suits

Αssociated Press

An anti-vaccine protester sits on her knees during a rally, at the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP/Photo Giannis Papanikos)

ATHENS – Greece's Supreme Court has given instructions to police to be wary of rabid anti-vaxxers during the COVID-19 pandemic who had been using suits that saw teachers and medical professionals being detained by police and harassed.

Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas sent guidelines to other prosecutors advising them to examine complaints from anti-vaxxers and lawyers wanting their targets arrested for following laws the vaccination opponents are breaking.

Police were told not to take those being sued into custody which is allowed if the defendants can be found within 48 hours, which had seen embarrassing cases of teachers being arrested for trying to keep out students who aren't vaccinated or refusing to take tests to see if they are infected.

Pliotas stressed that prosecutors must continue to uphold due process, while exercising judgement to weed out discreditable lawsuits, the paper said, although it wasn't said how that would be determined without a hearing.

The circular also calls on prosecutors to take a tough stance against cases involving fake COVID vaccination or recovery certificates, asking for the “exemplary punishment” of anyone found abusing the system.

That came as a prosecutor in Greece's second-largest city of Thessaloniki ordered a probe into vaccination certificates presented by staff at the northern port city’s Papanikolaou General Hospital to see if they are legitimate.

Health care professionals who refuse to be vaccinated are being suspended without pay but authorities are examining whether some are obtaining fake documents so they can keep working without being inoculated, risking the further spread of the re-surging virus.

The probe was ordered after media reports the hospital’s management was looking into around 20 staff members who said they were vaccinated at a health clinic elsewhere in the city although the shots were also available where they worked.

The media reports also suggested that some of the health workers being probed are well-known open anti-vaxxers who have publicly denounced the vaccines they said they would never get then showed up with a certificate showing they did so they could keep working.