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Monday, May 20, 2024

Man Jailed For Trying to Travel With a Fake COVID-19 Test Certificate

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Aman was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined 1,600 euros by a Belgian court for attempting to circumvent pandemic travel limits by using a forged test certificate.

Despite local legislation requiring all tourists to obtain a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result before boarding a plane to Belgium, the individual was actively infected with COVID-19 when he travelled there.

Eleven more defendants were sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 1,600€ apiece for forgery of documents, or forgery of computer science in the instance of defendants who presented a forged digital certificate, according to Belgium’s Aviation24 news site.

In the previous several months, border guards at Brussels Airport have arrested 820 people using fraudulent test certificates, with the great majority accepting a 750€ fine to avoid further prosecution. Around 20% of those caught, on the other hand, contest the fine and are taken to court.

Prosecutors are pursuing cases against 160 persons, and the first group from that backlog was heard in a criminal court on Wednesday.

The most of the accused failed to appear in court, but one woman declared her innocence and received a six-month suspended sentence as well as an 800€ fine.

Three more defendants were each sentenced to 60 hours of community service.

In its ruling, the court concluded that there are “few such textbooks of uninhibited selfish behaviour.” Those who were found guilty on Wednesday had “deliberately endangered society by placing their own freedom to travel above the public interest,” Aviation24 reported.

Belgium, like much of Europe, is seeing an increase in COVID-19 infections because to the highly transmissible Omicron strain.

Belgian travel restrictions are determined by a color-coded traffic light system, and visitors from high-risk Red list destinations must perform either a PCR test or a quick antigen test within 72 hours of arrival.

Despite broad availability to less expensive testing, test certificate fraud is still a serious problem.

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) was working on an app that would link test results to an authorized test provider and verify the results, but it hasn’t gained the traction that some in the airline industry had hoped.

Instead, airline check-in agents and border guards must frequently attempt to detect fake documents by checking for common telltale indications such as spelling problems or other formatting difficulties.


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