A criminal appeals court on Monday sentenced ex-Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos to eight years in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of 520,000 euros after deeming that he “inaccurately” declared his assets to authorities over the past few years.
The former Socialist strongman was found guilty of failing to accurately declare his income on wealth declaration forms (known as “pothen esches”) between 2006 and 2009.
The 73-year-old was also found to have withheld from tax authorities his wife Viki Stamati’s 2009 acquisition of the couple’s luxury home on one of the capital’s most exclusive streets, Dionysiou Areopagitou, at the foot of the Acropolis. The court ordered the confiscation of the property, which has been linked to a huge money-laundering network in which Tsochatzopoulos and several of his relatives, including his wife, have been implicated.
The former minister faces a separate trial, most likely in May, for money laundering in connection to kickbacks he is alleged to have pocketed from defense deals. He has been in custody pending that trial since his arrest last April. If convicted for laundering money from kickbacks, he is likely to face a much stiffer sentence.
Responding to yesterday’s verdict, Tsochatzopoulos spoke of a “political persecution under a legal cloak” and claimed that there had been “orders from on high” for his prosecution and conviction. He vowed to appeal the sentence.
On entering and leaving the courtroom where his trial took place, the political veteran was jeered by demonstrators shouting “Crook” and “Thief.”