Prime minister has private meeting with Paralympic athlete thrown out of police for disability

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday had a private meeting with one of the Paralympic athletes attending a special event in Parliament, following his pledge that 15 pct of public-sector jobs will now be filled by persons with disabilities. After the event held in honour of the Greek team at the Rio Paralympics, Tsipras met with swimming athlete Antonis Tsapatakis, a former police cadet that lost his job due to his disability.

Tsapatakis, along with another 12 colleagues, was among a group of police officers laid off in 2009 as unfit to continue doing their jobs. The group can now be hired once again to work desk jobs, through an amendment put through Parliament by Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas. According to sources, this came about through the prime minister’s personal intervention, after Tsapatakis wrote him a letter explaining his plight.

Following their meeting on Friday, the prime minister posted a tweet noting that “the vindication of @Atspatakis is a self-evident step for ensuring the equal treatment of every citizen in this country” in the Greek prime minister’s account.

Tsapatakis first entered the police force as a cadet in 2005 but became a paraplegic following a road accident in 2006. He was dismissed from the police force in 2009, after he was found unfit for service on health grounds. A presidential decree passed in 2011 allowed cadets considered unfit for active duty to be transferred to desk duty but this did not have retroactive effect, so Tsapatakis could not benefit, while he was also “left out” by later laws, extending the degree back to the year 2007.

The issue was raised in Parliament by SYRIZA MPs in 2012 and Tsapatakis also wrote to the prime minister. A solution was finally given via an amendment tabled by Toskas, which backdated the presidential decree to 2005, allowing Tsapatakis and another 12 individuals, who have been notified by the police, to seek jobs in the police.