Belgian justice on Thursday ordered the continued detention on remand of Greek MEP Eva Kailicharged this month in a corruption investigation involving the Qatar which has already cost her her position as vice-president of the European Parliament. The Brussels council chamber, before which the elected socialist appeared eleven days after the start of her imprisonment, refused the request for placement under an electronic bracelet and “extended the preventive detention by one month”, announced the federal prosecutor’s office in a press release.
The lawyers have 24 hours to appeal the decision, the prosecution said. Eva Kaili denies any corruption, reaffirmed her advice on Thursday morning. They hoped to obtain a release accompanied by a placement under electronic bracelet, arguing in particular his “active participation” in the investigation and the absence of risk of flight.
In this scandal which caused shock waves 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’.
Eva Kaili “did not know the existence of this money”
On December 14, it had already been decided to keep Francesco Giorgi in prison, companion of the socialist MEP, and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who also appear as key figures in the dossier. 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. A hearing has been set for December 27, according to his lawyer.
Former television 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. But Eva Kaili “did not know of the existence of this money”, said her Greek lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, according to whom Francesco Giorgi would have “betrayed the trust” of his companion.
In Belgium, the investigation led by financial judge Michel Claise gave rise to twenty searches between December 9 and 12, including in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels. Eva Kaili’s father was detained for 48 hours in the Belgian capital, while Pier Panzeri’s wife and daughter, targeted by a European arrest warrant, were arrested in Italy.
750,000 euros in cash seized from Eva Kaili’s father
In total, 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 Eva Kaili, her father was surprised with a suitcase containing 750,000 euros in cash. Finally, 600,000 euros were seized from the home of Antonio 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 Pier Antonio Panzeri, admitted this week that he received a cash donation of around 50,000 euros from Fight Impunity, but he assured that it was not linked to any attempted corruption or trafficking. of influence for the benefit of Qatar.
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.