By NIKI KITSANTONIS
ATHENS — A former Greek defense minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, was convicted and sentenced on Monday to eight years in prison for concealing assets from the authorities. It was the second high-profile corruption conviction in a week in Greece, a country where prosecutions of senior political figures are very rare.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos, 73, was a founding member of the country’s once-dominant Socialist Party, but the party expelled him in 2010. The court found that he submitted “inaccurate” information about his personal wealth to the authorities, notably by failing to report the purchase of a neo-Classical mansion near the Acropolis. Prosecutors have connected that property to a money-laundering scheme in which they accuse Mr. Tsochatzopoulos of concealing millions of euros in under-the-table payments from military procurement contracts.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos, who has been in custody since April 2012, faces a separate trial on money-laundering charges that is expected to start in May, and may result in a stiffer sentence if he is convicted.
In addition to the prison term handed down on Monday, the court also fined Mr. Tsochatzopoulos 520,000 euros, about $675,000, and ordered the seizure of the Athens mansion.
Last week, a court in Salonika, Greece’s second-largest city, sentenced a former mayor, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, to life in prison for embezzling about 18 million euros, about $23 million, from city coffers.
With many Greeks disgusted and angered by three years of crisis, austerity and dysfunction, the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pledged to crack down on political corruption.
This article was written by NIKI KITSANTONIS and originally published on nytimes