Wednesday, December 23, 1998 Published at 13:24 GMT
Ex-Nato chief guilty of corruption
Nato HQ: Willy Claes was Secretary-General in 1994-1995
The former Secretary General of Nato, Willy Claes has been given a three-year suspended jail sentence after being found guilty of corruption by Belgium's highest court.
He was the Belgian economics minister at the time and signed the contracts with the Italian helicopter manufacturer, Agusta, and Dassault Electronique, a French aviation firm.
The prosecution has had to show that the payments were bribes for the contracts and not simply gifts to the party - that was deemed legal if morally dubious until 1989.
The verdict against Mr Claes relates only to the case involving Agusta - verdicts are expected later in charges related to Dassault.
The court also said it was dropping forgery charges against Mr Claes.
The former defence minister Guy Coeme, 52, was given a two-year suspended sentence.
Former premier Guy Spitaels, 67, and Serge Dassault, 75, head of France's Dassault aviation concern, were also convicted of corruption. No sentences have been announced yet.
The Agusta affair, as it became known, arose out of an investigation into the murder of another senior socialist, Andre Cools. He was shot dead in 1991 after hinting that he would expose his party's corrupt activities.