ATHENS — A former Greek defense minister was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison after being convicted of money laundering in a case that has become emblematic of political corruption in the debt-wracked country.
However, given that he is 73 years old, Akis Tsochatzopoulos is expected to be released after serving just two years of his 20-year jail term, a judicial source said.
Tsochatzopoulos was a founding member of the socialist Pasok party and a leading figure on the Greek political stage for the past 30 years.
He was found guilty of laundering over six million euros ($8.1 million) from bribes over the purchase of armored vehicles, four submarines and Russian anti-aircraft missiles while defense minister from 1996 to 2001.
“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, checks, bank accounts, businesses”.
The Greek court also sentenced 16 other people for complicity, including Tsochatzopoulos’s wife, and acquitted two others.
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 Tsochatzopoulos in provisional detention in a high security prison in an Athens suburb.