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Greek MEP Kaili Speaks Out To Italian, French Newspapers After Release

Eva Kaili with her lawyer on the day of her release from a Belgian jail.
Eva Kaili gave her first interviews after her release from a Belgian jail. Credit: Video screenshot / ERT

Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who made headlines as a key suspect in the Qatar-EU bribery scandal in recent months, has spoken out to French newspaper Liberation and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera after her release.

Posing at her home with her 2-year-old daughter, the EU lawmaker claims that she was wrongly jailed over the Qatargate corruption probe at the European Parliament.

Following her arrest in Brussels six months ago, the Greek MEP and former vice president of the European Parliament was charged with participation in a criminal organization, corruption, and money laundering.

She spent four months in a Belgian jail and two months under house arrest before her detention was lifted on May 25 while she is pending trial.

Kaili gives first interview to French newspaper

In her first extensive interview since her arrest, given to French daily newspaper Liberation ten days before her house arrest was lifted, Kaili stressed that she has no role in this case.

She insisted that she was never mentioned in the monitored discussions between former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri – the alleged ringleader of the bribery network – and his former assistant, Francesco Giorgi, who is also Kaili’s partner.

Both men were arrested hours before Kaili, and Panzeri struck a plea deal with the Belgian police in January.

The Greek MEP said her partner, Giorgi, was “under Panzeri’s influence.”

In a more recent interview, published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Kaili gave more detail on the conditions of her detention in jail, which she has repeatedly described as inhumane, and on the reason why she tried to get rid of the money she found in her house.

Recalling the day of Giorgi’s and her arrest, she said: “When Francesco was arrested and his car was impounded, I thought it was a car accident. Then I was told that Panzeri had also been arrested. I panicked. I knew that in his office, which is in the room upstairs, where I never go, there was a Panzeri suitcase, and I found a lot of money there. I could not understand what had happened, but I wanted to take this money from the house and return it to Panzeri, whom I considered the owner”.

Kaili added that she never thought to use her parliamentary immunity, which, she maintains, shows that she had “absolutely no idea what this money actually represented.”

On a more personal note, Kaili told the Italian newspaper that she now feels stronger and appreciates every moment with her 2-year-old daughter even more. She added that Giorgi is a very good father to the child, but only time will tell what will be the relationship between the two partners.

Qatargate suspects’ return to the European Parliament

Eva Kaili was one of several top-level EU politicians implicated in the “Qatargate” bribery scandal, an alleged cash-for-favors scheme that involved money and gifts paid by foreign countries, including Qatar and Morocco, to influence decision-making inside the European Parliament.

In December, Belgian police seized over €1.5 million in cash during home and office searches and it was reported that bags of cash were discovered at the residence of Kaili, while her father was also caught in Brussels with a suitcase full of money.
Although stripped of her position as one of the vice presidents of the European Parliament over her role in the case, and despite her 6-month detention, Kaili remains a sitting MEP and is planning to return to work.
According to her lawyers, she wants to attend the European Parliament’s next plenary session in Strasbourg in mid-June, for which reason they are trying to lift her travel ban.
Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, who was also implicated in the corruption probe, has returned to his duties at the European Parliament after a court ruling removed the need for monitoring.

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