Former EU Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili in court for bribery investigation in Qatar


BRUSSELS – A prime suspect in an ever-expanding corruption investigation in the European Union is expected to appear before a Belgian court on Wednesday, the public prosecutor’s office said. may offer new details on explosive allegations that current and former officials took bribes from Qatar.

The suspect, Eva Kaili, was until yesterday one of several vice-presidents of the 705-member parliament, but was stripped of her role while waiting in a Belgian prison cell. She has not spoken publicly since her arrest, but her lawyer has maintained her innocence, according to Greek media.

Already dubbed the most significant EU scandal in recent history, the ever-expanding investigation has rocked the de facto capital of the European Union, raising questions of corruption and influence, particularly in the European Parliament, and has led to new calls for ethical oversight.

Top EU officials have vowed there will be full accountability. The European Parliament is under “under attack”, Roberta Metsola, the speaker of the parliament, warned on Monday. There will be “no impunity,” she said.

What are the bribery allegations in Qatar rocking the European Parliament?

What has been dubbed “Qatargate” began last week with the first of at least 20 raids across Brussels, including parliamentary offices. Belgian authorities seized more than $1 million in cash and blocked the access to technology of at least 10 parliamentary officials, according to prosecutors.

A Belgian judge has charged and suspected four people of money laundering, corruption and participation in a criminal organization on behalf of a ‘Gulf state’. Local officials have not yet named the country, but Belgian media have identified the country as Qatar. The country has denied any allegations.

The accused include Kaili, her partner, parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi, and a former member of the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri. According to the Belgian press, the head of a Brussels trade union and an unnamed Italian are also involved in the investigation.

Belgian officials say they “seized €600,000 in a suspect’s house, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room and about €150,000 in a flat belonging to a member of the European Parliament”.

The Belgian authorities report this on Wednesday tweeted photos of some of the recovered money, including one with a briefcase full of cash.

Ríos reported from Brussels.

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