After it was discovered that he had received a coronavirus vaccine in January despite not being in a priority category, a German mayor was suspended by his own city council.
Bernd Wiegand, the mayor of Halle’s central district, was temporarily suspended by a vast majority of 34 councillors late Wednesday.
Wiegand, 64, had previously confessed to having the vaccine in January, when it was still available only to the elderly.
Before their shift, other city workers and some councillors allegedly got a jab.
The mayor, on the other hand, denied that he had done anything unethical or immoral, claiming that he had been given the vaccine to prevent excess doses from going to waste.
“It’s easy to criticise my decision in hindsight… but it was not unlawful in any way,” he said in a statement in March, suggesting that the scandal was being exploited to “remove a nonpartisan mayor from office”.
However, Wiegand’s theories have changed over time, with one unfounded argument that he was chosen at random to obtain the excess dose.
The mayor must now await the outcome of a disciplinary process and an investigation by local prosecutors, but he still has the option of appealing his suspension to an administrative court.
Prosecutors said Wiegand was accused of “misappropriating some of the vaccine doses available to the city since December 2020” after raiding his offices in February, but emphasized the presumption of innocence.
Due to supply issues across the EU, Germany’s vaccine rollout has been slower than anticipated, with only 13% of the population having received at least one dose.
Wiegand isn’t the only German politician involved in a pandemic-related controversy.
In recent weeks, many members of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU coalition have been forced to resign due to allegations of corruption in the procurement of protective masks.