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Graft-accused MEP Eva Kaili released from jail

Greek MEP Eva Kaili briefly addressed journalists from her lawyer's car as she arrived home in Brussels to be placed under house arrest pending her prosecution on corruption charges
Greek MEP Eva Kaili briefly addressed journalists from her lawyer's car as she arrived home in Brussels to be placed under house arrest pending her prosecution on corruption charges - Copyright AFP -
Greek MEP Eva Kaili briefly addressed journalists from her lawyer's car as she arrived home in Brussels to be placed under house arrest pending her prosecution on corruption charges - Copyright AFP -

Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who has been charged with corruption as part of the so-called Qatargate inquiry, was released from prison and placed under house arrest on Friday.

Kaili left Brussels’ Haren prison in her lawyer’s car and was driven straight to her apartment near the European Parliament.

She has been ordered to remain at home pending trial, while wearing an electronic tracker.

“My daughter is waiting for me, so I’m very happy that I will be with her in a bit,” a beaming Kaili told journalists as she arrived, referring to her two-year-old child.

Speaking Greek and then in English, she added: “The fight continues, with determination, from my lawyers. We will talk soon.”

Kaili, a 44-year-old ex-newsreader and former vice president of the parliament, has become the public face of a corruption scandal that has rocked EU politics.

Prior to her release she had spent four months in custody and was the last of the main suspects to remain in prison while the Belgian probe continues. 

Her 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.

Panzeri has announced through his lawyer that he has struck a plea deal with investigators and has confessed to his role in organising a corrupt payments to a network of political figures.

Kaili and Panzeri were among four suspects arrested on December 9 when police swooped on a string of residences in Brussels and netted 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in cash.

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. 

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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