Top lawmaker suspended amid lobbying scandal at EU assembly

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By Euronews  with AP
MEP Eva Kaili is one of 14 vice presidents at the EU assembly
MEP Eva Kaili is one of 14 vice presidents at the EU assembly   -   Copyright  Petros Giannakouris/AP2011

A vice president within the European Union’s parliament, MEP Eva Kaili, was suspended on Friday by her party group after Belgian police carried out several raids linked to an investigation into suspected influence peddling at the EU assembly by a Gulf state.

The centre-left Socialists and Democrats group said that it had decided to suspend the former Greek TV news anchor's membership with immediate effect, in response to the ongoing investigations.

The 44-year-old was also suspended by her home party, the Greek socialist Pasok - Movement for Change group.

 Pasok said it acted “following the latest developments and the investigation by the Belgian authorities into the corruption of European officials.”

Following the latest developments and the Belgian authorities' investigation into corruption of European officials, MEP Eva Kaili is expelled from PASOK - Movement for Change by decision of President Nikos Androulakis.

Police staged 16 raids across Brussels on Friday as part of a probe into corruption and money laundering involving the EU assembly and a Gulf country, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

 Prosecutors declined to name the country concerned.

However, in a statement, S&D demanded that “the unfolding Qatar lobbying scandal” be added to the assembly’s agenda next week so that further details about the affair can be established and an appropriate response considered” by lawmakers.

Pasok publicly distanced itself from comments made by Kaili at the EU parliament last month, in which she praised Qatar and said that the 2022 World Cup is “proof, actually, of how sports diplomacy can achieve a historical transformation of a country with reforms that inspired the Arab world.”

Belgian prosecutors said four people were detained for questioning, and investigators recovered around €600,000 in cash and seized computer equipment and mobile telephones during the Brussels raids.

The prosecutors did not identify the four but said one was a former member of the EU parliament.

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