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Greek court finds ex-minister guilty of money laundering


A Greek court on Monday found a prominent former defence minister guilty of money laundering in a six-million euro case that has become emblematic of political corruption in the debt-wracked country.

Akis Tsohatzopoulos, 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 defence minister from 1996 to 2001.

Prosecutor Georgia Adilini had accused Tsohatzopoulos of laundering over six million euros from bribes over the purchase of armoured vehicles, four submarines and Russian anti-aircraft missiles when he was defence minister.

"There were so many bribes he could not even calculate the total amount," she said, citing sums of money transferred in "bags, suitcases, cheques, bank accounts, businesses".

The court also sentenced 16 other people for complicity, including Tsohatzopoulos's wife, and acquitted two others.

The court has not yet decided on the sentence for Tsohatzopoulos, who is the first political figure for several years to face justice for money laundering.

The former minister has become a symbol of political corruption in Greece, which has been mired in deep economic crisis since 2010.

Following his arrest a year ago, police placed Tsohatzopoulos in provisional detention in a high security prison in an Athens suburb.