Disgraced Greek MEP Eva Kaili will remain in custody over the Qatar corruption scandal for at least another month a Brussels court ruled on Thursday in pretrial hearing.
Kaili’s lawyers argued that she should be released until her case is taken to court. But the court ruled against it. It found that the Greek MEP could alter evidence of the case that has rocked the EU.
Her lawyers pressed the court for Kaili to wear an electronic bracelet instead of being sent back to jail, where she’s been for nearly two weeks after being arrested.
“Ms. Kaili is innocent, she denies all accusations of bribery or corruption,” one of her lawyers, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, said. He added that his client neither knew nor participated in the acts for which her partner is accused.
Kaili has been arrested along with her partner and a former Italian MEP on corruption and money-laundering charges involving World Cup host Qatar at the European Parliament.
Through her lawyer, she initially denied any involvement in the scandal but has since reportedly given a partial confession according to media reports.
Belgium’s Le Soir and Italy’s La Repubblica newspapers reported that she has confessed to ordering her father to hide bags full of cash as well as other things for her.
Kaili “had knowledge” of her husband’s dealings in Qatar corruption case
The document quotes the examining magistrate in the case as saying that, “[Kaili] had prior knowledge of her husband’s dealings with Mr. [Pier Antonio] Panzeri and that suitcases full of cash had been moved through her apartment.”
Reports say that Kaili’s husband, Francesco Giorgi, an Italian who worked for an Italian EU parliamentarian, has confessed to his participation in the scandal, as well.
Giorgi reportedly told authorities that he had been part of a group that facilitated the funneling of bribes from Qatar and Morocco to parliamentarians in exchange for influence on EU policy.
Kaili and Giorgi were among several people arrested on December 9th as part of a sting organized by Belgian authorities investigating corruption, money laundering, and foreign influence peddling linked to the European Parliament.
In his reported confession, Giorgi is said to have named former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri as being the head of the organization.
Like Kaili and Giorgi, Panzeri, too, was arrested on December 9th and is currently in a Brussels jail cell.
When investigators conducted a search of Panzeri’s Brussels apartment, they found €600,000 ($637,000) in cash.
Her fate over the corruption scandal will be decided at court
Dimitrakopoulos, spent hours with his client on Tuesday and admitted that the case is “difficult.” Thursday “is a day when her personal freedom is decided and there is no greater value than freedom,” he said.
He stressed that on Thursday the court “will not rule on whether she is guilty or innocent, but whether she should be released or remain in prison.”
He emphasized that Kaili is “troubled and feels betrayed by her partner. She trusted him, but he denied her.”
Dimitrakopoulos said that the defense team will try to convince the court of two things, including that “on the one hand,…the Greek MEP is not a fugitive suspect and, on the other hand,…she will not hinder the investigations either by altering evidence or by talking to people that are suspected to be involved in the case.”
Earlier in December, Qatar officially denied any involvement in the bribes scandal that has rocked the EU and has led to the arrest of members of the European Parliament.
“The State of Qatar categorically rejects any attempts to associate it with any accusations of misconduct,” a statement by the Qatar Mission to the EU had said.