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Sint-Truiden mayor Veerle Heerlen suspended for six months after corona vaccination hiccup

Veerle Heeren (56) is facing a six-month suspension as mayor of Sint-Truiden (Limburg province) in a case of corona vaccination fraud that goes back to March. 

The punishment was announced by the Flemish Interior Minister Bart Somers (liberal). Veerle Heeren (Christian democrat) allowed herself priority as the corona vaccination campaign was slowly gaining speed in March - this was at a time when the people of 85 years and older were being jabbed; many people were waiting impatiently for a corona vaccine, as the most vulnerable and elder population was being given priority. Heeren managed to get a jab before fellow citizens of the same age. 

The mayor had herself and a dozen friends or family members jumping the queue, though she explained in the city council that she always waited until moments when the local vaccination centre had some spare vaccines, and when there were no other candidates for the left-over doses. 

Heeren has apologised for the incident and stepped down voluntarily for a couple of months, before resuming her functions in July. Her suspension will apply as from 1 February. 

Despite some extenuating circumstances Veerle Heeren made a clear mistake, Bart Somers explained. He added that he considers the six-month suspension as a fair punishment, also because a burgomaster should give the right example for his or her citizens. 

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