Qatar-gate: Eva Kaili's pre-trial detention extended by two months

In the investigation into corruption in the European Parliament, the Brussels indictment chamber on Friday also extended the pre-trial detention of Eva Kaili, the former Greek vice-president of the European Parliament, by two months. This was reported by the federal public prosecutor's office. Earlier today the KI had extended the pre-trial detention of Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella by one month.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office has for several months been conducting a major investigation into attempts by the Gulf state of Qatar and Morocco to influence the economic and political decision-making of the European Parliament. Both countries allegedly tried to influence European Parliament decisions and resolutions through former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and his non-profit organisation Fight Impunity.

In that file, not only Panzeri, but also his right-hand man Francesco Giorgi, his partner and Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, Brussels-Italian lobbyist Nicolo Figa-Talamanca, Eva Kaili's father and trade unionist Luca Visentini were arrested on 9 December. The latter two were released after questioning, but Giorgi, Kaili, Panzeri, and Figa-Talamanca were placed under arrest warrant.

Pier Antonio Panzeri, meanwhile, has assumed the status of regrets in the case. In his recent interrogations, Panzeri allegedly admitted that he and Francesco Giorgi received at least €2.6 million from the three named countries: Morocco, Qatar and Mauritania. The vast majority of that money was paid out in cash. A part of that amount was allegedly distributed to MEPs and parliamentary assistants between 2018 and 2022, according to the apologist.

Thus, Tarabella should have received a total of €250,000 by the end of the legislature, in 2024. But Panzeri is equally unsympathetic to MEPs Andrea Cozzolino, Eva Kaili and Lara Comi. Andrea Cozzolino's name was mentioned earlier, and, as for Marc Tarabella, the European Parliament lifted his parliamentary immunity, after which he was placed under house arrest in Italy. The name of Lara Comi, an MEP from the Italian party Forza Italia, appears for the first time in this dossier. She was not elected in 2019, but replaced Silvio Berlusconi in November 2022, and denies all allegations.

Both Marc Tarabella and Eva Kaili strongly maintain their innocence. Their lawyers have also already demanded a confrontation between their clients and the rebel. Tarabella's defence also filed a challenge request against investigating judge Claise on 16 February. According to Tarabella's lawyer, Claise trampled on the presumption of innocence in his arrest warrant. However, investigating judge Claise refused to withdraw from the case, so the appeal court will have to consider the challenge request on 7 March.


EU vice President Eva Kaili who is arrested amid Brussels corruption probe, December 10, 2022. © BELGA PHOTO

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