An Indian court has found the top elected official of the southern state of Tamil Nadu guilty of corruption, in a case that was filed 18 years ago.

The judge held Jayalalithaa Jayaram "guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of her income," prosecutor G Bhavani Singh told reporters outside the court on Saturday.

He said the judge may sentence the actress-turned-politician later in the day and that she could face up to seven years in jail.

Jayalalithaa was charged with amassing illegal wealth of at least $10m in 1997, when police seized assets including 28 kilogrammes of gold, 750 pairs of shoes and more than 10,000 saris in a raid on her home.

Prosecutors said her assets, which reportedly included two 1,000-acre estates in in her home-state of Tamil Nadu, were vastly disproportionate to her earnings during her first term as chief minister between 1991 to 1996. 

Earlier this month, a special court in Bangalore postponed the verdict against Jayalalithaa to September 27, citing security reasons.

"I think it's very difficult for her to escape it because the facts are very clear. She claimed a salary of one rupee per year and ultimately amassed in 5 years, 66 crores [1 crore equals 10 milion]. How is that possible? So therefore it is an open and shut case and she is likely to be convicted and ceased to be chief minister," said Subramanian Swamy, the leader of rival Bharatiya Janata Party and the main complainant in the case, said before the court ruling.

Indian politicians are rarely convicted for corruption and even more rarely end up spending time in jail.

Source: Agencies