Two European officials at the centre of the Qatargate corruption scandal have both "partially confessed" to receiving illicit funds from the Qatari and Moroccan Governments, Le Soir and La Repubblica have reported.
Greek MEP Eva Kaili — whose apartment on rue Wiertz was found to contain €150,000 in cash and whose father was caught leaving a luxury hotel in downtown Brussels with a suitcase carrying €600,000 — has confessed to having instructed her father to hide the money.
In addition, Kaili has admitted to having prior knowledge of the corrupt activities of former MEP Antonio Panzeri: another key figure in the Qatargate scandal, who is similarly believed to have solicited hundreds of thousands of euros in bribes from Qatar and Morocco.
"It is true," Kaili told investigating judge Michel Claise. "I knew about the activities of Panzeri. And I knew there were suitcases full of money in my house." Kaili added, however, that her partner, parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi, was the beneficiary of the funds, rather than herself — an allegation corroborated last week by Giorgi himself in his own leaked testimony.
Claise is also reported to have received a "partial confession of the facts" of corruption from Panzeri, although it is not yet known what specific allegations the former MEP has confessed to.
The lawyers strike back
While not denying the confession itself, Kaili's legal team has vociferously denounced both Le Soir's and La Repubblica's reporting.
"I am personally outraged that you have had access to these documents," lawyer André Risopoulos told Le Soir. Risopoulos further suggested that publication of the details of such documents violates his client's right to a fair trial, and claimed that the characterisation of Kaili's testimony as a "partial confession" constitutes a "biased interpretation" of his client's actual testimony.
Risopoulos' remarks echoed similar comments made last week by Panzeri's lawyer, Laurent Kenes, after Le Soir and La Repubblica reported details of Giorgi's confession.
"My only reaction is that it is extraordinary that you have access to these court documents but that we do not," Kenes said.
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Similarly, the lawyer for Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella — who, according to Claise, was "denounced" by Panzeri "as the beneficiary of gifts coming from Qatar" in the course of the latter's "partial confession" — has vehemently denied all allegations of corruption on behalf of his client.
"Mr Tarabella has not received a gift from anyone," said the MEP's lawyer, Maxim Töller. "And he was not in any way influenced to make his decisions and adopt his positions."
Tarabella had his house searched last week by the Belgian authorities in connection with the ongoing investigation. On Tuesday, RTBF suggested that Tarabella may also be influenced by Europe's beer lobby.