Alaska senator guilty of corruption
Court finds senior US Republican legislator guilty over taking oil company gifts.
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2008 23:50 GMT
Stevens maintains that he never accepted gifts from oil services company VECO [Reuters]

A US court has convicted the most senior Republican in the country's senate of failing to report $250,000 worth of gifts he received from an oil services company.

Monday's verdict comes a week before Ted Stevens of Alaska, who has served in the senate since 1968, faces re-election for a seventh term in office.

Stevens, 84, is considered one of the most powerful Republicans in the US congress.

The federal court in Washington DC convicted him on Monday of seven counts of making false statements on mandatory financial disclosure forms he filed between 1999 and 2006.

Matthew Friedrich, the assistant US attorney-general, said: "These items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens's financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury."

Political fallout

Under oath, Stevens insisted he had never accepted the gifts from the owner of oil services company VECO, who has benefited from the senator's work in congress.

However, Stevens failed to explain details about home renovations or why he had not returned appliances and furniture given to him.

The corruption trial began on September 22 and saw 24 government witnesses and 28 defence witnesses testify in court. Stevens testified in his own defence.

A sentencing hearing was set for February 26, the AFP news agency said, citing an unnamed court source.

The conviction is likely to damage Sarah Palin, Alaska's governor and the Republican vice-presidential candidate, who had endorsed Stevens for re-election.

Stevens had already been narrowly behind Mark Begich, his Democratic opponent, in opinion polls of registered voters.

He now risks losing his senate seat next week.

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