laloo prasad yadav

File photo of former Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — An Indian court Dec. 23 convicted a powerful regional politician a second time for embezzling state government funds as a top elected official two decades ago.

Judge Shivpal Singh held Laloo Prasad Yadav, former Bihar state chief minister, guilty of stealing millions from government funds. His prison term will be announced Jan. 3.

In 2013, another court sentenced him to five years in prison for fraudulently withdrawing 378 million rupees ($5.8 million) from the Bihar state government treasury for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle over a period of 20 years. Yadav has been barred from contesting elections.

Yadav spent two months in jail in 2013 before he got bail from the Supreme Court as he challenged his conviction. The court decision is awaited.

On Dec. 23, soon after the judge convicted Yadav in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, police took him to a local prison.

His Rashtriya Janata Dal (National People's Party) spokesman, Sanjay Jha, said his attorneys would challenge his conviction in an appeals court.

Soon after his conviction, Yadav tweeted, "In (the) end Truth will win."

Indian judges are now expediting trials of politicians following a Supreme Court order to reach verdicts within one year in cases in which lawmakers are accused of serious crimes.

The Supreme Court order is part of its attempt to clean up India's electoral system by making it more difficult for politicians with criminal cases to contest elections.

Indian lawmakers are now barred from running in elections if they are found guilty of offenses carrying a jail term of at least two years.

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