Top Greek MEP Eva Kaili is released from Belgian prison, placed under house arrest and fitted with an electronic tracker as she awaits trial in £1.3m Qatargate corruption scandal
- Eva Kaili, 44, now awaits trial for her involvement in European Union scandal
- Kaili is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for influence in EU policymaking
A Greek European Union politician charged with corruption and accused of accepting bribes as part of the so-called Qatargate inquiry, has been released from prison and placed under house arrest.
Eva Kaili, the 44-year-old former European Parliament vice president and MEP, was fitted with an electronic tracker as she now awaits trial for her involvement in one of the biggest scandals to hit European Union institutions.
The former TV presenter turned Socialist politician was joined by her lawyer as they drove out from Haren prison in northern Brussels in a blackout Mercedes.
They then drove to her apartment near the European Parliament, where she wound down the window to speak briefly to reporters.
Kaili, as well as other former EU officials, are accused of accepting bribes from Qatar and Morocco in exchange for influence in EU policymaking.
Eva Kaili, the former European Parliament vice president accused of corruption, arrives at her residence after being released from custody today
The former TV presenter turned Socialist politician is accused of accepting bribes as part of the so-called Qatargate inquiry
Kaili was stripped of her responsibilities as vice president of the parliament but she still remains an MEP
Speaking to a heard of reporters briefly from her car, Kaili said: ‘My daughter is waiting for me so I’m very happy that I will be with her in a bit.
‘The fight continues, with determination, from my lawyers. We will talk soon, she added before the car disappeared into a garage.
In December last year, Kaili was detained along with three others during police raids in that recovered 1.5 million euros (£1.33 million) in cash.
Kaili was subsequently stripped of her responsibilities as vice president of the parliament, notably that of representing president Roberta Metsola in the Middle East, but she still remains an MEP.
She has spent four months in custody and was the last of the main suspects to remain in prison while the Belgian probe continues. She will not be allowed to leave Belgium after being fitted with an electronic tag.
Her Italian partner, parliamentary aide Francesco Giorgi, has also been charged and released.
Two others, Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella and Italian former EU lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri, were released to their residences in Belgium on Thursday, also wearing electronic tracking bracelets.
The investigation focuses on alleged attempts by the Qatar and Morocco to buy influence in the parliament, the European Union’s elected assembly, notably in trying to water down criticism of Qatar’s labour rights record ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Both countries deny any involvement in wrongdoing, as do Kaili and Tarabella.
Eva Kaili told reporters in Brussels today: ‘My daughter is waiting for me so I’m very happy that I will be with her in a bit’
Kaili was detained last year with three others during police raids in that recovered 1.5 million euros (£1.33 million) in cash
Kaili (right) has spent four months in custody and was the last of the main suspects to remain in prison while the Belgian probe continues
Kaili is accused of taking bribes from Qatar to influence EU policy. Pictured: Kaili in a meeting with the Qatari minister of labour Ali bin Samikh Al Marriin in Doha, October 2022
Kaili has been dating Francesco Giorgi (right) since 2020, and the pair have a two-year-old daughter together
Panzeri has announced through his lawyer that he has struck a plea deal with investigators and has confessed to his role in organising corrupt payments to a network of political figures.
Tarabella was detained in February after Panzeri claimed to have funnelled pay-offs to him.
The scandal has rocked the EU’s institutions and pushed the parliament to introduce reforms aimed at curbing outside influence.
Another suspect, Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino, is being held under house arrest in Italy and is fighting his extradition to Belgium. An appeal hearing is due in Naples on May 2.