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Politics

Disgraced Greek Former Defense Minister Tsochatzopoulos Dies

ATHENS – Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, released from jail in 2018 after serving less than five years of a 19-jail sentence after being convicted of stealing millions of euros from defense contracts, has died. He was 82.

The newspaper Kathimerini reported the passing of the former PASOK Socialist minister who had suffered serious health problems in recent years and was let out of jail on health grounds.

He had walked out of the high-security Korydallos Prison where he was sent to serve his sentence for corruption, pending an appeal. He had been released earlier only to be sent back.

“I am not at my best. I need to take care of myself,” Tsochatzopoulos, told reporters waiting for him outside the prison when he was released.

He and his wife, Vicky Stamati, 55, who was released from jail earlier after she said she was depressed and because she was a mother – and had escaped from a psychiatric hospital – had been also convicted of an elaborate money-laundering scheme to hide the millions they stole.

The paper said 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 a Member of Parliament 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 a report on his conviction for fraud in 2018, the BBC reported that prosecutors had charged him with money laundering and and taking bribes from 

contracts related to the purchase of German submarines and Russian missile systems for the Greek Navy, the court heard.

As well as Tsochatzopoulos, 16 out of 18 co-defendants were convicted of involvement in the fraud, including his wife, ex-wife Gudrun Tsochatzopoulos and also his daughter Areti Tsochatzopoulos.

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