Israel arrested dozens of physicians and pharmacists on Sunday on suspicion of purchasing fake licenses from Armenia after failing to complete their studies in other European countries. The police arrested the suspects at their homes and workplaces throughout Israel and will bring some to court Sunday to have their detention extended.
It is suspected that the 40 doctors and pharmacists arrested, some of them still in residency, had turned to an Israeli agent who connected them with institutions in Armenia after they failed to complete their studies abroad. A short time alter, they were given certificates stating that they had completed their studies in Armenia, even though they did not meet the academic standards. They showed the documents in Israel, and some of them subsequently passed the Israel Health Ministry licensing exams. According to the police, the agent had also used the same system of falsified certificates for himself.
The investigation, code named “license to kill,” was conducted by the police northern district’s central unit after anonymous complaints had been received. Investigators found pamphlets in Arabic stating: “We are pleased to announce to students having difficulty completing their studies the possibility of moving from universities in Europe to universities in Armenia and Georgia without losing time, including the possibility to undergo retraining from natural medicine, physical therapy, hearing and speech therapy to general medicine or dentistry.”
The police said in a statement that one of the suspects, in his 30s from the town of Arara in northern Israel, was arrested during his shift at the internal medicine department in one of the hospitals. Another suspect, a self-employed dentist, had previously served time for security offenses. Another suspect, from the town of Tira, was arrested together with his father, who tried to flee while holding a weapon.
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The Health Ministry has warned students in the past of the low academic level in the healthcare professions – medicine, dentistry and pharmacology – in Armenia and gave the police information about it in February 2016. The Health Ministry said in a statement that it is not obligated to recognize certificates from Armenia because of “serious questions” regarding their programs. Among other things, the ministry said it would not recognize certificates from the universities Mkhitar Gosh (all their certificates) and Saint Theresa (general medicine), which are among those where the suspects allegedly studied.