Politician who called for migrants to be shot and defended idea of reopening Auschwitz is made Greek HEALTH minister tasked with saving millions from covid
- Thanos Plevris, 44, who heads up the Greek Covid response, reiterated his ‘absolute respect’ for Holocaust victims and his opposition to antisemitism
- He had faced a public backlash for comments made during a 2009 defence trial
- He argued his father, Konstantinos Plevris’, comments on keeping Auschwitz in a good condition ‘so it could be used again’ should not be considered hate speech
- Central Board of Jewish Communities demanded apology after his appointment
Greece’s new outspoken health minister today apologised for past remarks that saw him accused of antisemitism by the country’s Jewish community.
Athanassios Plevris, 44, who heads up Greece’s Covid response, also reiterated his ‘absolute respect’ for Holocaust victims and his opposition to antisemitism in a statement.
The controversial lawyer had faced a public backlash over disparaging comments he made when acting as defence counsel for his far-right father during a 2009 trial.
He had defended his father – Constantinos Plevris – and his eye-opening comments suggesting the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland should be kept in good condition ‘so it could be used again’, arguing such views should not be considered hate speech or incitement.
It comes as the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expressed their concern over his Cabinet appointment on Tuesday and demanded an immediate apology from him.
Athanassios Plevris, 44, who heads up Greece’s Covid response, also reiterated his ‘absolute respect’ for Holocaust victims and his opposition to antisemitism in a statement
His father, Constantinos, had suggested the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland (pictured) should be kept in a good condition so it could be ‘used again’
Plevris reiterated on Wednesday he had ‘absolute respect’ for Holocaust victims and reaffirmed his opposition to antisemitism as his critics pointed to comments he made 12 years ago.
A KIS statement had summoned Plevris to apologize for remarks he made as defense lawyer in a 2009 court case against his extreme far-right father, Constantinos Plevris, who was charged with incitement to racist hatred or violence over a book called ‘Jews: The Whole Truth.’
KIS quoted the health minister as having said then, commenting on a reference to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp: ‘What incitement is this? Is it that one is not allowed to believe and want to believe that “I want to exterminate someone?”‘
Plevris said Wednesday that KIS’ objections to his court comments were ‘understandable’ and that he ‘fully disagrees’ with his father’s views.
He has repeatedly said he rejects the political views of his father, who was eventually acquitted.
‘I never wanted to insult the Jewish people, and I apologize if I did,’ the 44-year-old lawyer said.
‘I am certain that…as health minister, I will leave not the slightest grounds for reservation for those who doubt my respect for the Holocaust, and they will see that under no circumstances do I harbor antisemitic sentiments.’
The controversial lawyer (pictured, right, in 2015) faced a public backlash over disparaging comments he made when acting as defence counsel for his far-right father during a 2009 trial
The new minister joined the governing center-right New Democracy party in 2012 and before then was elected as a lawmaker with a small populist right party.
He was first elected to the Hellenic Parliament during the 2007 parliamentary election, before then holding office within the European Parliament in June 2009.
Plevris, who lies well to the right of New Democracy’s general line, was given the health portfolio – his first Cabinet position – during a government reshuffle in Athens on Tuesday.
He had previously faced criticism over a 2013 television speech in which he suggested migrants should be ‘banned’ from essential services, including health and education.
‘When you are here there will be no social benefits,’ he explained.
‘You will not be able to eat, drink, you will not be able to go to the hospital… They must have a worse time – from their countries – they will live here!’
Source: Read Full Article