Poland:seven people sentenced to prison for taking bribes in Iraq

The court convicted the seven of "making illegal profits" and jointly taking bribes amounting to at least US$500,000 (Ђ400,000) from Iraqi companies in return for awarding them construction contracts, military spokesman Col. Slawomir Puczylowski said.

The events took place in 2004 and 2005 in the central Iraqi provinces of Diwaniyah and Babil, while Poland was in charge of international forces there. The Poles have since handed Babil province over to the Iraqis.

Four former officers, ranking from colonel to lieutenant, were sentenced to between four years in prison and one year of partial confinement. They were also ordered to pay additional fines ranging from 90,000 to 245,000 zlotys (US$29,000; Ђ23,000 to US$80,000; Ђ63,000), Puczylowski said.

The two civilians, including an interpreter, were given terms of three and 2Ѕ years in prison and fined up to 200,000 zlotys (US$64,000; Ђ51,000), Puczylowski said.

All seven pleaded innocent. Some have said they would appeal the verdict, including Col. Mariusz S., who headed the force's civil cooperation body in 2004, the AP reports.

Another group of seven officers and civilians who faced the same charges pleaded guilty and were sentenced to up to 2Ѕ years in prison last November.

Poland still commands an international military force in central Iraq, where it has 900 troops.