Former Greek Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who was convicted on charges of corruption in 2013, passed away in Athens on Friday. He was 82.
He died of sudden cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Athens, where he was being treated for deteriorating health.
Tsochatzopoulos was a former politician who served as a minister in several Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) cabinets between 1981 and 2004. In the early 1990s he narrowly lost the vote to become the new leader of PASOK after the death of founder Andreas Papandreou.
On the left wing of PASOK, he was a towering figure who dominated Greek politics for nearly three decades.
Tsochatzopoulos was born in Athens in 1939 but spent most of his life in Thessaloniki. He was elected to the Hellenic Parliament for the first time in 1981 and remained in seat until 2007.
His political career was riddled with scandals and controversy. In 2004, he came under strong criticism by members of the press and Greece’s political scene in regards to his wedding in Paris and the reception that followed at the Four Seasons Hotel in order to have a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Tsochatzopoulos’ luxurious house with Acropolis view
On May 30, 2010 the Greek newspapers publicized their discovery that Vicky Stamati, his wife, had purchased a house for one million euros from an offshore company on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, in one of Athens’ most prestigious neighborhoods, only a few days before Parliament passed a series of austerity measures aimed at increasing taxes and combating tax evasion.
In early 2011, following an investigation by a specialized committee of the Hellenic Parliament, evidence emerged that Tsochatzopoulos was also involved in the Siemens scandal.
In April 2011 new evidence emerged that tied Tsochatzopoulos to yet another scandal, this time with the German company Ferrostaal in relation to the purchase of German submarines.
A vote in Parliament on April 28 on the creation of a committee to determine whether or not Tsochatzopoulos should be held accountable for criminal actions in the purchase of the German type 214 submarines was overwhelmingly in favor, garnering 226 of 300 votes in the house.
Almost a month later, on May 26, the findings on the committee for the investigation of Tsochatzopoulos’ assets were published; they found that he had lied about the value of his home, which was greater than his tax documents stated.
Parliament votes to press charges
On July 1, 2011, amid accusations of corruption scandals, the Greek Parliament voted in favor of pressing charges against him. He was subsequently convicted to a 20-year prison sentence on 7 October 2013. On April 2018 he was granted early release from prison due to deteriorating health.
On Monday, 7 October 2013, he was found “guilty on all charges”. The following day he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 20 years incarceration.
Tsochatzopoulos was transferred to Korydallos Prisons in October 2013. In May 2017, a court upheld his conviction, cutting his sentence to 19 years.
He suffered from multiple health problems and has recently undergone heart surgery. After five years imprisonment he was released from prison in July 2018 because of his serious health problems.