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Moldovan ex-prime minister charged over airport concession

FILE PHOTO: Moldova's Prime Minister Leanca holds his ballot papers before voting during a parliamentary election at a polling station in Laloveni

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldovan former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca has been charged with abuse of power over a concession that gave control of the country's main airport to a businessman now in exile, a senior prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Veronica Dragalin, head of Moldova's anti-corruption prosecution office, said a former economy minister and six other former officials also faced similar charges in a criminal case which she said had been referred to court.

All the accused pleaded not guilty, she told a news conference in the Moldovan capital Chisinau.

The 2013 concession handed control of Chisinau International Airport for a 49-year term to a company associated with politician and businessman Ilan Shor, who fled Moldova in 2019 after the election of pro-Western President Maia Sandu.

An appeals court ruled last November that control of the airport should return to the state.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Angus MacSwan)