Fake negative Covid-19 tests forgers arrested in Benin

In Benin, the police have just detained 24 people suspected of being involved in the production or use of false certificates of negative tests for Covid-19. Moreover, the authorities intend to take action to curb the worrying upsurge of the epidemic in the country.

While the number of new cases of Covid-19 has only climbed in Benin since the beginning of the year 2021, the authorities have just got hold of a group of individuals accused of using and issuing false certificates of negative coronavirus tests.

Presented to the Cotonou prosecutor’s office, they were immediately put in prison and will be tried for forgery and use of fraud, said the instance, quoted by local media, including the private station Frissons Radio.

According to the prosecution’s announcement dated January 20, 2021, they were first about twenty to be placed under an arrest warrant. The next day, four other people were also apprehended and imprisoned.

The prosecution says they belong to the same network whose other members are still actively sought.

The alert was given when travelers attempted to use false Covid-19 test certificates at the Bernardin Cardinal Gantin International Airport in Cotonou, he said. Benin requires travelers, on departure and arrival, to test negative for Covid-19.

When contacted to find out more about the situation and the alleged counterfeiters’ modus operandi, the Beninese Ministry of Public Health declined to comment on this subject, saying that the case is under investigation.

People “who smear the image of Benin”

The trial of the defendants will not be long. According to several local media, they will be tried on January 26, 2021 at the Cotonou court of the first instance. They risk several months of imprisonment.

On January 12, this same court pronounced against a French national arrested at the Bernardin Cardinal Gantin international airport in Cotonou in possession of a negative test certificate deemed fraudulent, a 10-month suspended prison sentence. It should also pay the State of Benin a fine of 250,000 CFA francs (approximately $400) for forgery and use of fraud.

The same informant alludes to similar facts, citing Beninese. In November 2020, the French police had dismantled traffic specialized in the issuance of false Covid-19 tests for travelers departing from Parisian airport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle. Beninese media claimed that among the alleged forgers were Beninese and Cameroonians.

Outbreak of contaminations

The authorities want to strengthen border control and enforce internal barrier measures, in particular the systematic wearing of protective masks, to limit the increase in cases of contamination by the coronavirus observed since the end of the year 2020 celebrations.

Regarding the wearing of a mask, in particular, the authorities have already started to crackdown. Thus, on January 18, 2021, several health workers and nurses accused of not having worn masks in the exercise of their profession were in fact arrested and placed in pre-trial detention in Parakou (in the north of Benin) on the orders of the Departmental Director of Health, the doctor Colonel Ibrahim Mama Cissé.

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