GR US

Jailed Greek Kindergarten Cleaner Will Get Fraud Sentence Reviewed

The National Herald

(Photo by Eurokinissi, File)

ATHENS – A Greek kindergarten teacher jailed for 10 years for forging a certificate she had a sixth grade education will get her sentence re-examined after criticism it was unduly harsh as professionals and others who faked their degrees were not imprisoned.

Court officials said that Xeni Dimitriou will review the ruling of the 53-year-old whose name wasn't given. She got her job after submitting a forged certificate she had finished sixth grade — the minimum education requirement for state-employed cleaners.

She was jailed following her conviction by a court in the city of Larissa, in central Greece. Her lawyer has appealed the ruling and will seek her release from prison pending retrial.

"This decision is not simply inhuman. It is another very indicative sign of permanent pathogens in the criminal justice system," the Hellenic League for Human Rights said in a statement.

The sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal and the woman, who worked as a cleaning lady at a kindergarten in the central Greek city of Volos, is currently serving her sentence at Thiva Prison.

The jailing and harshness of the sentence while others who've forged certificates and gotten off lightly caused an uproar, especially because the woman provides the only income for her family as her husband is unable to work due to disability, said Kathimerini.

The issue has caused a political, union and social media backlash, as the sentence is seen as being particularly harsh, given that the 53-year-old woman is the only breadwinner in her family and her husband is unable to work due to disability.

This July, the brother and sister of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have denied winning a 1.1-million euro ($1.29 million) state contract by submitting fake documents that their company’s social insurance payments were current.

There was no explanation why the siblings of a Prime Minister were allowed to make a bid on state work and his brother, Dimitris, and sister, Zanet, said there was no funny business around their construction firm Diodos, getting the contract.

New Democracy, the major rival to Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA, demanded answers over the questions that arose including a law passed in 2016, the government’s second year in power, that applied a statute of limitation to the case, preventing any probe of the Premier’s siblings.

In October, 2013 then-Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who now leads the major opposition New Democracy, that the number of civil servants who would be fired for getting their jobs through fake certificates was exaggerated.

In July 2016 A municipal employee on the southeastern Aegean island of Leros was sacked after it was discovered he'd been hired 15 years earlier using a forged degree from a car mechanic school but he was not prosecuted.

In October, 2014 checks were done on 70 percent of the degree certificates and other professional qualifications of the 2,280 employees of Attica’s regional authority and four workers were found to have submitted forged papers, regional governor Rena Dourou but fired outright.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)