Former Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos had his life sentence for gross embezzlement reduced from life imprisonment to 12 years. By a vote of 3 to 2, the five-member appeals court ruled that Mr. Papageorgopoulos had been an accessory to stealing municipal funds while in office. This crime carries a jail term of between 10 and 20 years.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 for corruption along with several of his aides. The former general secretary of the municipality, Michalis Lemoussias, was also convicted to life imprisonment. His sentence was also reduced to 13 years.
Mr. Papageorgopoulos protested that the new verdict was “another major mistake” and indicated that they would appeal to the Supreme Court. He said that he was not responsible for the embezzlement of 17.9 million euros.
Mr. Papageorgopoulos handed out a hand-written note to journalists following the trial insisting on his innocence and stating that he would appeal to the Supreme Court. According to the note, he claims to be a “scapegoat” and the victim of a frame-up. “In prison after a long period of contribution to my country, to Thessaloniki, to youth, with absolute respect for the Constitution and for laws and without the acquisition of any significant asset in the past 25 years,” writes the 67-year-old former mayor. “An innocent in jail!”