January 12, 2021 - 11:04 AMT
Italian lawmaker handed 4-year jail term for taking bribes from Azerbaijan

Luca Volontè, former deputy and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, was sentenced today in Milan to four years in prison taking bribes from Azerbaijan, La Repubblica reports.

According to the indictment, he abused his power, receiving half a million euros from two Azerbaijani politicians to influence the vote and obtain the rejection of a report on political prisoners in the South Caucasus republic to the advantage of the Azerbaijani government.

The so-called Straesser Report on the conditions of political prisoners in Azerbaijan was put to the vote in January 2013.(According to the investigation, Volontè, the then representative for Italy who finished his mandate that same year, was promised €10 million between 2012 and 2014 but ended receiving about €2.4 million (with the court managing to prove the fact of half a million euro bribe).

It was revealed in 2017 that Azerbaijan's ruling elite operated a secret €2.5bn ($ 2.9 billion) slush fund to pay off European politicians and make luxury purchases. People said to have been paid include European politicians who adopted a favourable attitude to the government.