independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Greek minister guilty of corruption

Unrest continues on the streets of debt-stricken Greece even as a former minister is convicted of corruption (AP)

A former Greek defence minister has been convicted of money laundering in the most prominent corruption case yet in the financially-stricken country.

An Athens court found Akis Tsochadzopoulos, a prominent figure in past Socialist governments, guilty along with 16 of his 18 co-defendants, including his wife, ex-wife and daughter, after a five-month trial. He has spent nearly a year and a half in jail in pre-trial detention, as had his wife, daughter and other close associates. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

In April a court jailed the 73-year-old Tsochadzopoulos for eight years for false income declarations. It also ordered the seizure of his home in central Athens and imposed a 520,000-euro (£440,000) fine.

The corruption case stems from a scandal over a contract for the purchase of German submarines and Russian anti-aircraft missiles. Tsochadzopoulos had been accused of accepting bribes between 1997-2001 to award the contracts. Although the bribery charges are beyond the statute of limitations for a former minister, he was convicted of money laundering for using the proceeds of the alleged bribery.

He denied all the charges and accused the prosecution of conducting a politically motivated trial.

Tsochadzopoulos served as defence minister from 1996 to 2001 and development minister between 2001 and 2004. He was a prominent member of the Socialist PASOK party, which dominated Greek politics for the best part of the last three decades.

The party saw its public support hammered after the financial crisis broke out in late 2009 as the country suffered high unemployment and had to impose punishing austerity measures to reduce debt. PASOK is currently the junior partner in the conservative-led coalition government.

-AP

Press Association

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