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Powerful Indian Politician Gets 14-Year Prison Sentence for Embezzlement

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Lalu Prasad Yadav, center, a former chief minister of Bihar State, being taken into police custody last year. On Saturday, he was convicted of embezzling the equivalent of $570,000.Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A powerful Indian politician was sentenced on Saturday to 14 years in prison for embezzling 37 million rupees from a state government’s treasury while he was the state’s top elected official.

The politician, Lalu Prasad Yadav, was convicted of embezzling the equivalent of $570,000, to buy fictitious medicines and cattle fodder while he was chief minister of Bihar State from 1990 to 1997.

Mr. Yadav, who already had been convicted three times in related cases, was also fined $92,307.

Powerful Indian Politician Gets 14-Year Prison Sentence for Embezzlement
Powerful Indian Politician Gets 14-Year Prison Sentence for Embezzlement

Eighteen former Bihar State officials, contractors and suppliers were also sentenced in the case to jail terms ranging from three and a half to five years.

Mr. Yadav, 69, who served as India’s railways minister from 2004 to 2009, was shifted to a hospital from a prison earlier this month, after he complained of chest pains in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand State.

Corruption is endemic in Indian politics, and judges are expediting trials of lawmakers accused of crimes including murder, fraud and extortion after a Supreme Court order to reach verdicts within one year in such cases.

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About 15 percent of Indian lawmakers are facing court trials on criminal charges, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, an activist group.

Mr. Yadav turned his political party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, or the National People’s Party, into a family enterprise, with his wife, two sons and a daughter running it.

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