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Cyprus

Michaelides and son sentenced to 15 years (Update 3)

By Constantinos Psillides

Former interior minister Dinos Michaelides and his son Michalis were found guilty on all charges on Wednesday by an Athens court and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Dinos and Michalis Michaelides were facing charges of bribery and money laundering in relation to the purchase of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missiles by Greece during Akis Tsohatzopoulos’ term as Greek defence minister.

Defence lawyers for Michaelides filed a motion for leniency with the court, citing Michaelides’ “clean record and good behaviour”. The court rejected the motion.

Syrian arms dealer Fouad Al Zayat was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia. Also sentenced were former legal adviser to the Greek defence ministry Anastasios Sofos and his wife Maria. The length of their sentence has yet to be made known.

The charges related to the purchase by Greece of the Russian TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile system and the alleged kickbacks given.

The former minister and his son were suspected of money laundering, involving kickbacks of €7.7 million believed to have eventually ended up in the hands of Tsohatzopoulos who signed the agreement for the supply of the missile system.

Greek investigators found that the millions in kickbacks were sent from one offshore company to Michalis Michaelides’ account, to which his father Dinos also had access.

Tsohatzopoulos, was arrested in April 2012 on money laundering charges in the biggest scandal in Greece involving a politician. On October 2013 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His cousin, businessman Nicos Zigras, testified to Greek authorities last year that Michaelides transferred cash linked to the acquisition of the missile systems.

Dinos Michaelides was forced to step down as interior minister in 1999 during Glafcos Clerides’ administration after ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou questioned planning changes to land which Michaelides later bought and built a luxury home on.

Michaelides said at the time he was being “defamed”. He also served as interior minister between 1985 and 1988 for the Spyros Kyprianou government and between 1993 and 1997, again for Clerides.

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