A court in Greece has sentenced former defense minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, to 20 years in prison for money laundering.
The court found Tsochatzopoulos and 16 of his co-defendants guilty in a six-million money laundering case that has become emblematic of political corruption in the European country.
Akis Tsochatzopoulos, 73, a founding member of the socialist Pasok party and a leading figure on the Greek political stage for the past 30 years, served as defense minister from 1996 to 2001.
The ex-minister and his accomplices have been found guilty of money laundering from bribes in the purchase of military hardware, including Russian anti-aircraft missiles when he was in office.
“There were so many bribes he could not even calculate the total amount,” Prosecutor Georgia Adilini said, citing sums of money transferred in “bags, suitcases, cheques, bank accounts, businesses”.
Throughout the five-month trial Tsochatzopoulos denied the charges against him. Prosecutors have demanded jail terms from six to thirteen years for his co-defendants.
Greek politics has been embroiled in corruption-related cases in recent days. Several MPs of the far-right Golden Dawn party were arrested a few days ago on false charges of money-laundering and murder.
In April, Tsochatzopoulos was sentenced to eight years in prison for submitting false income declarations. The court also ordered the seizure of his Athens home and imposed a 520,000 euros (about USD 706,800) fine. The case originated from corruption in purchases for military hardware.
Greece is ranked as Europe’s most corrupt country by Transparency International. The country has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis.
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