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Imprisoned for corruption | MEP Eva Kaili fixed on her fate Thursday evening



(Brussels) Belgian justice will say Thursday at the end of the day if Eva Kaili, indicted this month in a corruption investigation involving Qatar, can be released from prison and be placed under electronic surveillance as requested by her lawyers.

The 44-year-old Greek MEP, stripped of her post as Vice-President of the European Parliament on December 13 in the wake of the first revelations, appeared Thursday morning during a closed-door hearing before the Brussels council chamber. She denies any corruption.

Her lawyers asked that she be able to benefit from judicial control under an electronic bracelet, explained one of them at the exit, André Risopoulos.

The council chamber must render its decision at the end of the day, “probably late”, added this lawyer, assuring that his client “is actively participating in the investigation”.

In this scandal which caused a shock wave in the European Parliament and tensions between Qatar and the EU, Eva Kaili is one of a quartet of suspects imprisoned after an indictment for “belonging to a criminal organization”, “money laundering”. ‘money’ and ‘corruption’.

On December 14, it was decided to keep Francesco Giorgi, companion of the Socialist MEP, and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri in prison, who also appear as key figures in the file.

A fourth defendant, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, leader of an NGO, had been granted placement under an electronic bracelet that day, but the measure was suspended because the federal prosecutor’s office appealed.

Such a measure granted to Kaili by the council chamber could also face a veto from the prosecution.

Former TV news presenter, who became a controversial figure in the Greek Socialist Party (Pasok-Kinal) – which excluded her from the first revelations – Eva Kaili continues to deny having received money from Qatar to influence her political decisions. .

According to a Belgian judicial source, bags filled with banknotes worth 150,000 euros were discovered in his apartment in Brussels.

Butme Kaili “did not know of the existence of this money”, had already affirmed his Greek lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, according to whom Mr. Giorgi would have “betrayed the trust” of his companion.

In Greece, a joint bank account of the couple was seized by justice, as well as a plot of 7000 m2 on the island of Paros bought via this account, we learned Thursday from a judicial source. An investigation was opened last week by the Athens Financial Prosecutor’s Office.

A million and a half in silver

In Belgium, the investigation led by financial judge Michel Claise gave rise to twenty searches in Belgium between December 9 and 12, including in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Eva Kaili’s father was kept in custody for 48 hours in the Belgian capital, while Mr. Panzeri’s wife and daughter, targeted by a European arrest warrant, were arrested in Italy. They challenged before the Italian courts their return to Belgium.

Belgian investigators got their hands on 1.5 million euros in cash, according to the same judicial source.

In addition to the 150,000 euros discovered at Mme Kaili, her father was caught with a suitcase containing 750,000 euros in cash.

Finally, 600,000 euros were seized from the home of Mr. Panzeri, a former socialist elected member of the European Parliament who founded the NGO Fight Impunity in Brussels in 2019, whose three years of activity are now being scrutinized.

Italian trade union leader Luca Visentini, who knows Mr Panzeri, admitted this week to having received a cash donation of around 50,000 euros from Fight Impunity, but assured that it was not linked to any attempted corruption or trafficking. of influence for the benefit of Qatar.

Worried in the investigation, Mr. Visentini, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC, Ituc in English), was released under judicial supervision on December 11 after two days in police custody.

On Wednesday, he was “suspended” from his duties by the governing body of the ITUC.

On the diplomatic level, the scandal shakes the relationship between the EU and Qatar, which has warned of a possible “negative impact” on gas supplies.

The emirate, which “firmly rejects” the accusations, protested against a vote taken on December 15 in the European Parliament which aims to suspend access “for representatives of Qatari interests” during the investigation.

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