One year in prison for second traveller with fake PCR test, Brussels court rules

One year in prison for second traveller with fake PCR test, Brussels court rules
Credit: Brussels Airport

A second man who was caught attempting to get on a plane with a forged PCR test has been sentenced to one year in prison by the Brusselse correction court on Monday.

It concerns the second such conviction since 27 April, when the public prosecutor's office announced that it would take strict action against such acts. The first conviction happened on Tuesday 22 June, for a similar offence.

On 7 May, the man had presented himself at the airport with the results of a PCR test which was supposed to show that he had tested negative for the coronavirus, according to reports by the Belga news agency.

However, after checking with the laboratory that had supposedly conducted the test, it turned out that no test with the man's reference numbers had been carried out, and that his name did not appear in the data either.

The traveller then confessed that he had bought the forged certificate for €30.

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The public prosecutor's office in Halle-Vilvoorde first offered the man a settlement of €750, but he refused. He also did not appear in court, and was sentenced in absentia to a prison term of one year and a fine of €4,000.

"These are very serious offences," the court said in its ruling, reports Belga. "International air travel is the easiest way for a pandemic to spread globally."

According to the court, the person involved demonstrated "an anti-social and dangerous attitude, that does not only show a complete lack of respect for health care providers, but also put the health and safety of his fellow travellers at risk."

Travelling abroad for non-essential reasons has been possible again since 19 April, but travellers have to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) upon return. To combat abuse, the Board of Prosecutors-General has issued guidelines on the prosecution of persons who falsify such PLFs or Covid test certificates.

In practice, these guidelines state that people who create or use these false documents are immediately summoned to appear before the criminal court. However, prosecutors can opt to first propose an amicable settlement of €750.

Between 19 April and 11 June, 576 people were caught with such a falsified PCR test at the airport, reports Belga.

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