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BRUSSELS (AP) — Guy Spitaels, a Belgian socialist leader who in 1998 was convicted of corruption along with ex-NATO Secretary General Willy Claes, has died. He was 80.
His party said he died of a brain tumor. Spitaels held pivotal political jobs in a career fraught with controversy in Belgium's socialist ranks.
He was leader of his party in the 1980s when it became embroiled in a bribery scandal linked to the purchase of Italian helicopters for the air force. He always denied any wrongdoing.
Spitaels was convicted in 1998 along with other prominent socialists. They included Claes, who quit NATO's top job in 1995 for his role in the scandal as economic minister, and then-foreign minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who ordered the burning of unreported funds in the party's vault.