European Parliament bribery scandal: Kaili 'will never return' to Greece until proven innocent

European Parliament bribery scandal: Kaili 'will never return' to Greece until proven innocent
Credit: Belga

Former European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili — one of the key figures implicated in the so-called Qatargate scandal — has claimed she will not return to Greece until she has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Belgian authorities.

"If I cannot convince the Belgian justice system of my innocence, I will never return to my home country," Kaili told the Athens weekly newspaper To Vima on Saturday. She added: "I will never admit to betraying the people who voted for me."

Kaili's lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, subsequently informed Athens news channel Skai TV that his client "wants to return to the European Parliament meetings [after the end of the court proceedings]".

The 44-year-old Greek MEP was released on Friday morning after more than four months in prison and placed under house arrest at her apartment in Ixelles. Her movements are currently being monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.

Kaili is the last person suspected of involvement in Qatargate to have been released from prison, after Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella and Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri were freed earlier this month. Both are also currently under house arrest in Belgium.

A sordid affair

Like Panzeri and Tarabella, Kaili is alleged to have accepted money from the Qatari and Moroccan Governments in exchange for supporting pro-Qatari and pro-Moroccan legislation.

Upon her arrest on 9 December last year, federal investigators discovered €150,000 in cash at Kaili's Brussels apartment. A further €600,000 was found in a suitcase carried by Kaili's father as he was leaving a luxury hotel in downtown Brussels.

Kaili's partner, Francesco Giorgi, with whom Kaili has a young child, has already confessed to accepting bribes, although he denies that Kaili is guilty of any wrongdoing.

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In addition to his links to Kaili, Giorgi is a close associate of two other key figures implicated in the scandal. At the time of his arrest with Kaili on 9 December, Giorgi was working as a parliamentary assistant to MEP Andrea Cozzolino, who has since been placed under house arrest in Italy. Giorgi also previously worked as an advisor to Panzeri who, like Giorgi, has already confessed to accepting bribes.

Upon his release on Thursday morning, Tarabella — like Kaili — reaffirmed that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

"I am relieved to be able to join my family," l'Echo quoted Marc Tarabella as saying. "I would like to thank all the people who have shown their support to me during all these weeks. I repeat: I have nothing to reproach myself for and of course I remain at the complete disposal of the investigators if they have any other questions."

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