ATHENS – As Greek police are going to hunt for what could be masses of fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates feared given at health centers around the country, the major opposition SYRIZA doesn't want penalties for those who distributed them.
At least 44 have already been discovered but there are worries, said Kathimerini, that an untold number more were given by officials at health centers, although it wasn't said if it was for anti-vaxxers to have documents allowing them to avoid restrictions against going into restaurants and other gathering places, or profit.
The police's Internal Affairs Division, which deals with corruption, was ordered by Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' government to begin a probe, the issuance of fake certificates casting doubt on the authenticity of the vaccination campaign.
The unvaccinated are a chief reason why the pandemic is spreading and, armed with fake certificates showing they are protected, would be free to go into public places and further spread the Coronavirus, putting others lives at risk.
Supreme Court’s Chief Prosecutor Vassilios Pliotas also warned about the presence of gangs acting for financial gains and who are urging citizens to not be vaccinated and to refuse other medical services, the paper said.
In Parliament, SYRIZA voted against a government amendment imposing stricter penalties for fake certificates, including a 5,000 euros ($5915) fine per fake certificate issued, and the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL) abstaining.
SYRIZA lawmaker Andreas Xanthos, a former health minister, said the leftists are in favor of vaccinations, but not mandatory shots such as those required of health workers and oppose penalizing criminals giving fake documents.
The center-left KINAL said it abstained because the government is requiring vaccinations for public hospital doctors but not those in private practice also authorized to give the vaccinations.
KINAL lawmaker Andreas Loverdos, who is opposing party leader Fofi Gennimata in elections later this year said, said that, if he were present, he would have voted for the government’s amendment, “despite all its weaknesses” without explaining why he wasn't there.
“I say it openly, they are winking at those who act illegally,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told SKAI radio about the stance of SYRIZA and KINAL.
Government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou called the opposition parties’ stance “an act of extreme political hypocrisy and destructive opportunism.” He said that, “SYRIZA and KINAL are looking for votes even among the extremely delinquent and are indifferent to the damage done to the effort made so that we can all return to fully living our lives.”
Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos met with division chief Major General Ilias Kossyvakis to push the investigation of fake certificates issued at a health center in central Greece and at hospitals in northern Greece.
It wasn't said why there would be only fines for giving fake certificates instead of prosecutions for a serious crime or whether if any nurses found culpable would be fired or doctors would lose their licenses.
Those in the health care sector refusing to be inoculated would be suspended without pay, the government said, but it hasn't been reported if they have as the government gave them more time after vowing it wouldn't.
Pliotas called on all prosecutors’ offices to investigate if there are more incidents of fake certificates and reported threats of violence against doctors by rabid anti-vaxxers who don't believe the shots are safe or effective or that they are an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds.
Prosecutors were urged – not ordered – to go to vaccination centers as deterrents against unlawful acts but it wasn't said if they were directed to cross reference certificates against the shots or other means to find fraud.