Former health minister acquitted in Covid vaccine case

Riga City Court fully acquitted former Health Minister Ilze Viņķele (For!) in the criminal case accusing her of inaction as a state official, LETA Agency found out in court February 29.

The judgment can still be appealed to Riga Regional Court.

The prosecutor charged Viņķele after Section 319, Paragraph one of the Criminal Law for inaction of a public official.

A term of imprisonment of up to three years or temporary deprivation of liberty, or probation supervision, or community service, or a fine, may be imposed for this.

The charge against Ilze Viņķele was that she did not ensure the development of a Covid-19 vaccination strategy to contain the spread of the virus in Latvia, which includes the purchase, storage, logistics, competence of officials and medical resources for ensuring the vaccination process.

In November 2020, the EU offered Member States a centralized procurement of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech against Covid-19. According to the opinion of the Disciplinary Board of the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health), Latvia was able to apply for 841,342 doses but decided to purchase only 97,500. Instead of 420,707 vaccines available in the next round, Latvia decided to purchase 100,000. As a result, vaccination against Covid-19 started much slower in Latvia than in other EU countries.

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