Greek Supreme Court considers legality of €100 fine for unvaccinated over 60s

Greece’s Supreme Court (Council of State) must decide whether the €100 monthly fine imposed on unvaccinated citizens over the age of 60 is legal, in line with the country’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Several citizens over the age of 60 who were not vaccinated against Covid-19 have petitioned the Supreme Court to have it overturned. Among them are a couple of former high-ranking judges. The first hearing on the case at the CC Plenum took place last Friday, April 8th.

In the first stage of the decision-making procedure, the SC considered and ultimately dismissed the appeal of the Greek state, which requested that the trial be adjourned in this way due to the failure to submit the necessary documents from the Ministry of Health and other health institutions, EOPY and others. It is noted that the legal representatives of the state were absent from the hearing, even though they petitioned for a delay.

At the beginning of the hearing, the speaker, State Counselor Marlena Tripolizioti, stated that two court documents requested the competent authorities of the state and EOPPY to send documents and these materials of the SC case for applications for postponement, but without a decision.

Therefore, the SC Plenum rejected the state’s request to postpone the trial, and the speaker raised the question of whether the court should issue a preliminary ruling on the submission of documents to the court and at the same time provide for sanctions in case of non-compliance, or the CoS should make a final decision.

Lawyers for those who appealed the fine argued that the state would not provide the court with the necessary evidence, “no matter how many preliminary rulings were issued.” For this reason, they asked the SC to proceed with the final decision. They also pointed out that a fine of 100 euros per month is imposed without regard to income and financial criteria, even for citizens receiving a pension of 300 euros, while other, more lenient measures can be applied in addition to the fine.

At the same time, lawyers argued that the contested ministerial decision was unconstitutional, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (ECHR). It also violates their individual rights, constitutionally protected personal data and data on their property.

They drew attention to the fact that the ministerial decision on a fine of 100 euros allowed the exchange of data on citizens between several institutions, including the Ministry of Health and the Independent State Revenue Office, as well as tax authorities. The fine was registered on the personal account of the tax office of an unvaccinated citizen, and property should be confiscatedif the citizens do not pay the fine within the prescribed period, usually within one month. As we reported earlier, by the end of March, only 317,962 people were fined in January, while only 14%, or 44,000 citizens, paid it.

It should be noted that among the citizens who applied to the Supreme Court, there are a former vice president and two former judges of the Supreme Court, a former chairman of the Court of Appeal, two lawyers, one doctor, one priest, a retired teacher and several employees over 60 years old, the news site reports.

23 March Deputy Minister of Health Mina Gaga announcedthat the fine will be canceled by April 15, but fines will not be written off. Since the penalty was introduced from 15 January, the total fine for unvaccinated people over 60 will be 300 euros until 15 April.

The Council of State will proceed to make its final decision in due course.

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