Crime & Justice

European lawmaker to remain in pre-trial detention in ‘Qatargate’ scandal

Brussels, Dec 22 (EFE).- A Belgian court ruled Thursday that a European Parliament lawmaker accused of facilitating the funneling of bribes from Qatar and Morocco to parliamentarians must remain in custody for another month.

Eva Kaili’s defense team argued in the hearing that she is innocent of the charges of corruption, membership in a criminal organization and money laundering and asked that she be released and placed under electronic surveillance.

The 44-year-old Greek Social Democrat has been removed from her position as a European Parliament vice president, although she still retains her seat in that body.

She was arrested on Dec. 9 despite her parliamentary immunity on the grounds that she had been allegedly caught red-handed during a series of police raids on mostly Brussels properties in which more than 1.5 million euros ($1.59 million) in cash were seized.

Three alleged co-conspirators – her partner, European Parliament assistant Francesco Giorgi; former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri; and the secretary-general of the non-governmental organization No Peace Without Justice, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca – also were arrested on the same preliminary charges.

Kaili has been held at Haren prison on Brussels’ outskirts since her arrest.

Last week, the pre-trial detention of Giorgi and Panzeri was confirmed, while Figa-Talamanca was released pending trial but must wear an electronic bracelet. EFE


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