Investigation launched into Greek airport over alleged COVID deal

Hardalias has denied any involvement in the case and threatened to sue the journal. However, he said he would file an indictment with the competent prosecutorial authorities for immediate investigation of the complainants and to assign responsibilities to other persons involved. [Shutterstock/Novikov Aleksey]

A Greek prosecutor is investigating press reports that four basketball players of Turkish team Fenerbahçe who had fever were allowed to enter Greece bypassing COVID-19 controls on the request of deputy minister for civil protection, Nikos Hardalias.

Edimerida ton Sintakton reported on phone messages it had seen between airport officials and the Civil Protection from October 2020, in which airport officers warn that four people of the Turkish mission had fever.

But the competent officer of the Civil Protection gave an order for the team to pass the airport controls, saying it was a Hardalias’s order.

The Civil Protection officer also reportedly urged airport officials to contact him about the case through “Pakistani phone numbers” and not the Greek ones.

Hardalias has denied any involvement in the case and threatened to sue the journal. However, he said he would file an indictment with the competent authorities for immediate investigation of the complainants and to assign responsibilities to other persons involved.

The press report has triggered a strong reaction from the opposition parties, which called for deep investigation over the case.

“Political decisions allowed cases to spread in the country,” said main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, criticising the government’s “criminal attitude” in relation to the protection of public health.

COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in Greece in the last two days and combined with the slow vaccination roll-out, the government mulls re-introducing some restrictions such as mandatory masks and local lockdowns.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)

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