The former mayor of Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki, has been granted early release on compassionate grounds from prison, where he was serving a 12-year sentence for embezzling city funds.

Authorities decided Tuesday that Vassilis Papageorgopoulos has a disability, mainly due to heart problems, and qualifies for early release under new laws passed this year. He served two years and five months of a 12-year sentence over more than 17 million euros ($19 million) that went missing from city funds.

Papageorgopoulos, a 67-year-old former champion sprinter, was originally given a life sentence, which was reduced on appeal last year. He denied the charges. Papageorgopoulos was mayor from 1999-2010.