A Greek criminal appeals court handed down a unanimous guilty verdict for Greece’s former Defence Minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, and 15 other defendants accused of arranging illegal kickbacks for the purchase of the TOR-M1 missile system and Greek Navy submarines by the Greek armed forces.
Tsohatzopoulos received the maximum sentence of 19 years jail time and a five-year deprivation of civil rights. Eight of the fifteen other defendants found guilty in the case were led to prison.
Having spent the biggest part of their respective sentences and taking advantage of some generous articles of the penal code, most of those convicted in the case are expected to be released after a few months – Tsohatzopoulos and his wife Vicky Stamati among them.
The verdict; which was announced by presiding judge Anthi Gamari, represents the culmination of a three-year criminal appeals trial that found all 16 defendants guilty, upholding a money-laundering verdict reached by a lower court. One of the original defendants in the trial has since passed away.
The only differentiation between Monday’s verdict and the original verdict is in the amount of cash considered to have been given to the former minister via his associate Yiannis Sbokos. This has been adjusted downward from 40 million euros – the amount accepted by the lower court – to 10 million euros.
The 78-year-old politician served as a minister in several PASOK cabinets between 1981 and 2004. He was Defence minister in the Kostas Simitis government between 1996 and 2001.