MEP Eva Kaili, arrested on corruption charges, has now been dismissed as Vice President of the European Parliament. Parliament President Roberta Metsola revoked the 44-year-old “with immediate effect from all powers, duties and tasks” as her deputy.
This was announced by a spokeswoman for Metsola on Saturday evening.
A corruption affair in connection with the World Cup host country Qatar has shaken the European Parliament – and calls for political consequences to be heard. The Belgian police arrested the Vice President of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, and four other people on suspicion of “gang corruption and money laundering”. She was arrested and has since been suspended.
The scandal revolves around the suspicion that Qatar tried to influence the decisions of the European Parliament with considerable sums of money and gifts.
There were a total of five arrests in Brussels on Friday; the Greek Kaili, one of the 14 Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, was arrested in her apartment. Four Italians were also arrested, including Kaili’s partner Francesco Giorgi, who is a parliamentary assistant for the Socialist Group in the European Parliament.
EU Vice President Katarina Barley (SPD) called on Kaili to resign on Saturday. “Public prosecutor’s investigations are always the point where you say, as a politician, you can no longer represent an institution,” said Barley in the evening on ARD. “As such, we expect her to resign of her own accord.” Barley and Kaili both belong to the Socialist Group in the European Parliament.
According to information from the Belgian newspaper “L’Echo”, the investigators had found “several sacks full of banknotes” in Kaili’s apartment. The police ordered the premises to be searched after finding Kaili’s father with a large amount of cash in “a suitcase”.
Pier Antonio Panzeri, former Social Democrat MEP and current head of the non-governmental organization Fight Impunity, and the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Luca Visentini, were also arrested. Two other arrests were also confirmed to the AFP news agency in Rome on Saturday from circles in the Italian government: Panzeris’ wife and daughter are affected.
According to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, the police confiscated cash amounting to around 600,000 euros as well as data carriers and mobile phones during the raids, which are now being evaluated. According to a spokesman for the investigative authority in Brussels, the five suspects were further questioned on Saturday.
The public prosecutor’s office said that the country involved in the corruption case was a “Gulf State”. He is suspected of “influencing the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament” by “paying considerable sums of money or giving away substantial gifts”.
Circles familiar with the investigation confirmed media reports from the AFP news agency that the Gulf state was Qatar. A Qatari government official told AFP his country was “not aware of any details about an investigation”. Any “allegation of wrongdoing by the State of Qatar” is unfounded.
German MEPs expressed their outrage at the events. He was “stunned that apparently leading members of the European Parliament let themselves be bought for large sums of money in order to campaign politically for states that trample on human and occupational safety rights,” said CDU MEP Dennis Radtke.
The chairman of the Europe Committee in the German Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter, said in an interview with the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (RND) that if the allegations were true – for which there is some evidence – Kaili “would not only have to withdraw from the presidency of the EU Parliament, but also resign their mandate”.
Kaili’s own party also called on Kaili to withdraw from the European Parliament. A member of the Greek Socialist Party said the party was “pressuring Ms Kaili to give up her parliamentary seat”. The 44-year-old had already been expelled from the party on Friday.
Former TV presenter Kaili said in the European Parliament on November 22 that the soccer World Cup in Qatar was “concrete proof of how sports diplomacy can lead to a historic transformation of a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world”. Qatar is a “leader in labor rights”.
Shortly before the speech, Kaili met with Qatari Labor Minister Ali bin Samikh Al Marri in Qatar. In a video message, she described the World Cup as a “great instrument for political changes and reforms”.
For years, NGOs have accused Qatar of violating the human rights of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Asia and Africa. The reports about the bad treatment of migrant workers are overshadowing the current World Cup in Qatar, where the semi-finalists are being determined.
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