Greece: Prosecutors told to put anti-maskers on trial

Judicial authorities in Greece have received instructions to pursue the prosecution of anti-mask activists with fast-tracked trials and penalties for convictions of up to a year in prison

ATHENS, Greece -- Judicial authorities in Greece received instructions Tuesday to pursue the prosecution of anti-mask activists with fast-tracked trials and penalties for convictions of up to a year in prison.

While Greece's COVID-19 infection rate remains lower than in most other European Union member nations, the country has seen a sharp increase in confirmed cases since early August. The total number of confirmed cases approached 16,000 as of Tuesday.

Anti-mask groups have recently stepped up activity online and staged small street protests. Since schools reopened last week, they have focused their criticism on the requirement for students to wear masks in class.

Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas said the actions of anti-mask campaigners had caused “understandable concern among law-abiding citizens.” He described the groups as “minor but persistent.”

Pliotas said online posts and other actions merit prosecution for the crime of agitating to break the law, an offense that normally results in a fine and has rarely led to imprisonment.

The government says it is relying on the advice of leading Greek and international experts and that lawmakers approved its framework of virus-related restrictions.

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