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Slovenian opposition leader convicted in bribery case

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LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia’s chief opposition leader was sentenced to two years in jail on Wednesday for bribery in a 2006 deal with Finnish defence group Patria, one of a number of corruption scandals that have fuelled public anger over the country’s financial crisis.

Janez Jansa had denied taking money in the aborted purchase of 135 Patria armoured vehicles while he was prime minister and is expected to appeal. Two co-defendants were also found guilty and jailed for 22 months.

High-level corruption allegations have stirred public anger over a financial crisis that has exposed a culture of cronyism in the ex-Yugoslav republic, and could see it become the latest euro zone country to seek an international bailout.

Six people in Finland are being prosecuted over the same deal and an Austrian court has already convicted an Austrian citizen for corruption. The 278-million-euro (236.4 million pounds) contract was scrapped in 2012 after the allegations surfaced.

The Finnish government owns around 73 percent of Patria while European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) holds some 27 percent.

Jansa championed Slovenia’s drive to secede from Yugoslavia in 1991 and was prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and again for a year until March 2013. His centre-right government fell after an anti-corruption commission said Jansa was unable to explain the origins of a significant part of his income over the past several years.

Editing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Jon Boyle