A man who got caught wanting to travel abroad with a forged PCR test at Brussels Airport was sentenced to a one-year prison term by the Brussels criminal court on Tuesday.
It concerns the first conviction since 27 April, when the public prosecutor's office announced that it would take strict action against such violations.
The man on trial on Tuesday had presented himself at the airport with the results of a PCR test that was supposed to show that he had tested negative for the coronavirus, reports the Belga news agency.
However, after verification, it turned out that the test was forged, and the man in question confessed that a friend of his had taken such a test and he was now trying to use that document to travel abroad.
- 'Book your test now': extra Covid test centres for travellers open in Antwerp
- Belgium no longer red on European coronavirus travel map
- Two free PCR tests for travel available from 28 June
- ‘Zero tolerance’: Travellers with fake PCR tests face six months in jail
The man was offered an out-of-court settlement but did not pay it, so the public prosecutor's office summoned him to court, where he also failed to appear.
Between 19 April and 11 June, a total of 576 people were caught wanting to travel with a similar falsified PCR test at the airport, all of whom also received a €750 fine.
At least two of them have not paid it, and have been summoned to appear before the criminal court, the Halle-Vilvoorde public prosecutor's office announced on Tuesday.
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.