Prosecutors seek heavy sentence for ex-minister

Prosecutors Thursday called for former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos to be jailed for life, claiming that he cheated the Greek state out of millions of euros in kickbacks from defense contracts and set up a money-laundering network to cover his trail, displaying contempt for the Greek people.

“He took so many kickbacks that even he didn’t know how much,” chief public prosecutor Georgia Adeilini told the Athens Appeals Court hearing the trial of Tsochatzopoulos and another 18 co-defendants, including his wife Viki Stamati. The ex-minister showed “arrogance and contempt” for Greece’s institutions and people, Adeilini said, adding that the evidence against the former Socialist strongman was “overwhelming.” A second criminal prosecutor, Panayiotis Panayiotopoulos, described Tsochatzopoulos as a “white-collar criminal” who deserved to go to prison for life.

The prosecutors called for 17 of the 19 defendants, including Tsochatzopoulos’s wife and daughter, to be convicted. They conceded, however, that only a fraction of the kickbacks had been traced by authorities. “Who knows in what secret places those millions of euros are hidden?” Panayiotopoulos said.

Defense lawyers – a total of 53 represent the 19 defendants – are to take over Friday or Monday. A verdict is due in early October.

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