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The vice president of the EP accused of corruption in an open investigation

Brussels, 11 Dec. The Belgian judge investigating the scandal in the European Parliament held this Sunday under arrest and accused the vice president of the institution Eva Kaili for the crimes of participation in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption in a case that is still open.

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office reported today in a statement that magistrate Michel Claise charged four of the six detainees today and released the other two, after taking their statement on Saturday for the alleged case of corruption in the Eurochamber linked to Qatar that broke out last Friday.

According to the Belgian media Le Soir, Knack and L’Echo, in addition to the Social Democrat Kaili, the judge charged his colleague and adviser in the European Parliament Francesco Giorgi, a Brussels lobbyist and the former Italian Social Democrat Pier Antonio MEP with the same crimes. Panzeri, in whose house more than half a million euros was found.

The two people he has released on charges are Kaili’s father, who was caught red-handed by police on Friday while trying to escape with bags full of banknotes, and the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Italian Luca Visentini.

The Belgian Prosecutor’s Office suspects that Qatar has paid “large amounts of money” and offered “significant gifts” to people who have a “strategic political position” within the European Parliament, to influence their decisions.

The case has also crossed Belgian borders and has reached Italy, where a court in Brescia (north) yesterday confirmed the arrest of Maria Colleoni and Silvia Panzeri, wife and daughter respectively of the former MEP detained in Brussels.

OPEN INVESTIGATION

The investigation by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, which has been behind the case for several months, remains open, to the point that last night the police also searched the home of another MEP, the Belgian Social Democrat Marc Tarabella.

A record in which the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who returned to Brussels from Malta (her country of origin) was present, confirmed parliamentary sources.

And it is that the Belgian Constitution requires that the president of the European Parliament be present in the searches that are carried out in the houses of the MEPs elected in Belgium.

MEETINGS WITH QATAR

Both Kaili and Tarabella have held recent meetings with representatives of Qatar and both have defended that the Gulf country has made progress in labor matters, during a debate held in the European Parliament on the violation of human rights that has occurred during the construction of the stadiums of the current World Cup.

“Qatar is a pioneer in labor rights,” said Kaili, for whom “the World Cup is proof, really, of how sports diplomacy can achieve historic transformation.”

The vice president recently met in Qatar with the Minister of Labor of that country, Samikh al Marri.

Tarabella also held a meeting with the spokesman for the Qatari Foreign Ministry on June 2 of this year, according to the EU Integrity Watch organization.

“Obviously, the situation is not perfect in Qatar, far from it. There is still a lot to do, but it is still the country that has embarked on the path of reform. And the organization of the World Cup (…) was probably the trigger that accelerated these reforms”, said the MEP in the aforementioned parliamentary debate.

Kaili, moreover, has become the first major political victim of this scandal, as Metsola suspended her from her duties as vice president yesterday.

The leader of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament, the Spanish Iratxe GarcĂ­a, went even further today by asking that she be removed from office.

Meanwhile, the European People’s Party, the Social Democratic group, the Liberals and the Greens agree to suspend all voting on Qatar until the facts are cleared up. EFE

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(More information from the European Union at euroefe.euractiv.es)

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