Former EU vice-president Eva Kaili remanded in custody after incriminating herself in ‘Qatargate’ bribery scandal

Image of former Greek MEP Eva Kaili. Credit: Wikipedia - By euranet_plus - Greek part - Citizens’ Corner debate: Migration maze – policing Europe’s borders, whose job is it?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=126494457

After incriminating herself in ‘Qatargate’ bribery scandal, the former EU vice-president Eva Kaili has been remanded in police custody in Belgium.

 

Eva Kaili, the Greek MEP will remain remanded in police custody after she incriminated herself in the alleged bribery scandal, known as ‘Qatargate’. The decision was reached during a Brussels council chamber meeting this Thursday, December 22. They will extend her detention for another month.

The former Vice-President of the European Parliament buckled under pressure in her first appearance a fortnight ago before the examining magistrate, Michael Claise.

According to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, in a statement to the court after her arrest, Kaili admitted to being aware of the bribery and gifts scheme to influence Parliament’s political positions relating to Qatar and Morocco. She also admitted to knowing that cash was hidden in her shared home with her partner Francesco Giorgi.

After learning of her boyfriend’s arrest, Kaili admitted that she asked her father to get rid of the cash. This version of Kaili’s story contradicts that defended until now by her lawyers and also by her partner.

In his statements to the courts, Giorgi tried at all times to exonerate his girlfriend and asked for her release from prison she that she could take care of their 18-month-old daughter, reported Le Soir.

Kaili’s defence team, made up of Belgian and Greek lawyers, also shared this line of defence. At a press conference with Greek media in Brussels on Wednesday, December 21, lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said that his client ‘felt betrayed by her partner’.

Although Dimitrakopoulos initially denied that Kaili knew of the existence of cash in her home, he later changed his story and said that his client, after learning of the facts, intended to return the money.

A reconstruction of the events in the Belgian press though leaves no room for doubt. The police first arrested Giorgi, a former parliamentary assistant to the mastermind of the plot, former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri. After learning what had happened, Kaili panicked and made a big mistake in asking her father to get rid of the money stashed at her home.

This led to the Belgian police finding the MEP’s father in the Sofitel hotel in Brussels with a briefcase containing €600,000. It was this clue that led investigators to search the couple’s home, located very close to the European Parliament, and seize €150,000.

The investigation was not able to enter the flat because as an MEP Kaili enjoyed immunity from prosecution and it is necessary to prove flagrante delicto to take this step.

“It is true that I knew about Mr Panzeri’s activities and I knew that there were suitcases of money in my house”, admitted Kaili, according to Le Soir. Investigators believe that the Greek MEP also tried to tip off Panzeri, who after losing his seat in 2019 had founded the human rights organisation, ‘Fight against Impunity’.

These attempts to manipulate evidence make it almost impossible for Kaili to plead not guilty. The Greek authorities have frozen all of the MEP’s properties in the country, including those of her father and sister. These amount to more than €400,000 in savings, 6 real estate properties, three cars, and investments worth €2.5 million.

This association had among its honorary members the former Greek commissioner, Dimitrios Avramopoulos, who received €60,000 for his services. He denies knowing anything about the bribery scheme.

The European Commission has acknowledged that it gave its approval for the former immigration commissioner to work for the organisation. They also pointed out that he had contacts with the current college of commissioners before a trip to Qatar.

An investigation has been launched by the European Commission to ask Avramopoulos for more information. It has also asked members of the current EU executive to clarify the meetings held with the former commissioner as a representative of this NGO, as reported by larazon.es.

___________________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

FacebookTwitterRedditWhatsAppTelegramLinkedInEmailCopy Link
Go Back
Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

Comments