Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a Socialist politician who served in Greece’s PASOK administration as defense minister from 1996 to 2001, has died aged 82 after suffering from serious health problems in recent years.
He was born in 1939 in Athens but grew up in Thessaloniki after his family moved to the northern port city in 1940. He studied civil engineering in Munich before earning a degree in engineering economics and management. He worked in several public construction projects in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, before moving back to Greece in 1975.
Tsochatzopoulos served as an MP and as minister in several PASOK administrations between 1981, when the Socialist party first came to power under the leadership of Andreas Papandreou, and 2004. In 1996, he was a candidate for the prime minister’s post following Panadreou’s resignation. He lost to Costas Simitis.
In 2013, in one of the country’s highest-profile corruption cases, Tsochatzopoulos was jailed for 20 years after being convicted of taking bribes that were laundered through offshore companies and used to buy property. Vicky Stamati, his second wife, was also sentenced to 12 years. Tsochatzopoulos’ sentence was later reduced to 19 years. He was released on health grounds in 2018.