MYTELENE, Lesvos – A five-person criminal ring on the island of Lesvos, including two lawyers and a psychologist, was providing illegal asylum applicants with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder to improve their classification as vulnerable, the North Aegean Police Directorate reported on Thursday evening.
The directorate said that after months of investigations it has now confirmed some 538 such cases, each of which would earn those issuing the certificates between 550 and 950 euros. Of the five, four are Greek nationals. Three of the five were arrested in Lesvos recently.
By identifying asylum seekers as ‘vulnerable persons’, both the false asylum applicants and their families enjoyed additional protection and assistance, as the certificates were signed off by the arrested psychologist, who, according to standing regulations, had no right to do so.
Investigators seized three laptops and a main desktop computer, external data storage drives, 4,615 euros in cash and numerous documents and handwritten notes.
A criminal case file has been compiled including charges of forming a criminal organization, repeatedly facilitating the illegal residence of third-country nationals in Greek territory, misappropriating certificates and money laundering.
The case was handled by the Mytilini Security Directorate, with the assistance of the Thessaloniki Security Directorate’s Organized Crime and Human Trafficking Division.
Investigations are ongoing to determine the full scope and activity of the criminal ring.