The Chisinau appeals court on July 9 freed former defense minister Valeriu Pasat who had been jailed for alleged abuse of his position in the sale of 21 fighter planes to the United States.
Pasat was arrested in March 2005 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2006. Pasat's alleged crime was a decision in 1997 to accept a $40 million offer from the United States for 21 MiG-29 fighters, even though Iran was offering $90 million.
This is the second time that an appeals court has overturned a conviction against Pasat. Pasat had also been sentenced for selling grenade launchers to a Slovak company at a discount in 1998, a ruling that was subsequently overturned.
AP reported that a U.S. government representative testified in Pasat's latest trial that Moldova could have faced economic sanctions had it sold the planes to a hostile country such as Iran.
Pasat served as defense minister from 1997 to 1999 and as the head of Moldova's intelligence service from 2000 to 2002. Pasat was also indicted in February 2006 for plotting both a coup and the murder of a senior politician. Pasat has argued that the cases against him were politically motivated.