Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The European Parliament dismisses its vice president Eva Kaili, investigated for the Qatar bribery plot

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It may be the verdict that has had the least opposition in the European Parliament in its entire history.

The Greek socialist MEP Eva Kaili has ceased to hold one of the 14 vice-presidencies of the European Parliament after the Belgian Justice charged her with the crimes of corruption, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization when she was discovered red-handed for allegedly having accepted bribes in exchange for benefiting Qatar.

The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, which represents the different political forces, unanimously decided on Tuesday to take this step, which was later endorsed in plenary session by an overwhelming majority of 625 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions. The only vote against was that of the Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakusiv , not registered with any party.

Despite the fact that the Greek socialist MEP has been imprisoned since last Friday, her team of lawyers defends that the 44-year-old public representative and former news presenter is innocent. At the moment, all of her assets on Greek soil have been frozen, which according to the Greek newspaper “Kathimerini” include 463,197.69 euros in savings and six real estate properties. It is clear that her enrichment has taken place in recent years of service to European democracy. According to the declaration of assets that she sent to the Greek Parliament in 2013, then her savings were only 70,585.61 euros.

But these possessions may just be the tip of the iceberg. In the search carried out at her house last Friday, 150,000 euros were found in cash , which is added to the money that her father carried in a suitcase and that allowed the arrest of the MEP. There are different versions of this figure. While the Prosecutor’s Office speaks of hundreds of thousands of euros without giving further details, the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir” puts this amount at 600,000.It is expected that in the next few hours the Belgian courts will analyze again whether or not the four defendants in this plot of alleged bribery to get a position favorable to Qatar should remain in prison. This Monday, police officers accompanied by the examining magistrate in the case appeared at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels to seize the information from 10 computers, with the purpose of avoiding deletion and any interference that would hinder this very delicate operation that is being carried out. has kept stealth for almost six months.

In total, the figure seized now amounts to one and a half million euros if all the records made since last Friday are accounted for, which also includes the 600,000 euros in cash at the home of former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri .

“Belgian justice is doing what, at first glance, the European Parliament has not done,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo , who has promised that the country’s Security Forces will go to the end.

No one knows how far this skein can get tangled up or if we may face more arrests in the coming days. In the case of some MEPs whose offices and homes have been searched, in order to proceed with the arrest it would be necessary either to be caught in flagrante delicto -such as Eva Kaili- or for the Belgian justice to request the lifting of immunity through the request to the European Parliament , the same modus operandi as with Carles Puigdemont .

Suspicions hang over the Human Rights subcommittee, members of the Delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula and a group of friends from Qatar. At the moment, those involved are socialists from southern countries, Italy and Greece. In fact, this Tuesday there have been new records in the offices of the European Parliament , although this time at its headquarters in Strasbourg where the last plenary session of the year is taking place in maximum tension.

Among those affected by these searches is Mychelle Rieu , an official who works for the Human Rights subcommittee. In addition, another of the names that are in the eye of the hurricane is that of Marc Tarabella , who has already been suspended from the Belgian Socialist Party. His address was searched this Saturday, but it is unknown if any type of compromised material was found. In any case, nothing that at the moment seems to compromise his parliamentary immunity and cause his arrest. He has denied involvement in any bribery and gift fraud schemes, despite the fact that he has spoken out in favor of the Arab country on numerous occasions.

Less belligerent public statements towards Qatar and meetings and trips with nationals of this country are now also being watched with a magnifying glass, although the Arab country denies being involved in this matter. The vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas , has had to make a stand for his statements in defense of Qatar and his trip to the World Cup.

“I received a soccer ball and a box of chocolates, both of which I left with the driver who took me to the stadium. I think there was also some promotional material for the World Cup”, he responded to journalists at a press conference at the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg.

The European Parliament promises an investigation into what happened and new measures to improve transparency, including safeguarding the position of “snitches” who shed light on corruption cases. In the European bubble, no one doubts that “Qatargate” will take time to forget.

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