Corruption scandal: Eva Kaili's partner, Francesco Giorgi, freed but under electronic monitoring

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews
Francesco Giorgi and Eva Kaili
Francesco Giorgi and Eva Kaili   -  Copyright  AFP PHOTO /EUROKINISSI

Francesco Giorgi, the domestic partner of Greek MEP Eva Kaili and one of the protagonists at the centre of the corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament, was freed from jail on Thursday but will remain under electronic monitoring.

The decision was taken by a Belgian judge after a hearing in Brussels.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office of Belgium will not appeal the ruling, the office said in a short statement.

Giorgi will remain under pre-trial detention but under electronic surveillance.

He has been charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering, the same charges faced by Kaili.

The couple has a two-year-old daughter.

Giorgi and Kaili were arrested on 9 December as part of the ongoing investigation into a cash-for-favours scheme that involved "large" sums of money and "substantial" gifts allegedly paid by Qatar and Morocco in a bid to influence the European Parliament's decision-making.

Qatar and Morocco vigorously deny the accusations, calling them unfounded claims.

Over €1.5 million in cash had been seized across dozens of raids, including €150,000 from Kaili's residence in Brussels.

Besides Giorgi and Kaili, three other individuals have been criminally charged: former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, both of whom are still in prison, together with NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, who was freed in early February.

Another socialist MEP, Andrea Cozzolino, was this month arrested in Italy and is fighting extradition to Belgium.

Panzeri, the presumed ringleader behind the cash exchanges, has struck a plea deal with Belgian authorities under which he admits his guilt in bribery and commits to sharing "revealing" information.

It's unclear if Panzeri's confession had any effect on the decision to release Giorgi under electronic surveillance, a request that was recently denied to Kaili herself.

Who is Francesco Giorgi?

Francesco Giorgi is Eva Kaili's domestic partner and one of the suspected key players in the cash-for-favours scheme.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Giorgi holds a degree in political science from the University of Milan and has been working as an accredited parliamentary assistant since 2009.

Giorgi began his career in the hemicycle as an assistant to Pier Antonio Panzeri and in 2019 moved to the office of Andrea Cozzolino. During his time in Brussels, the 35-year-old became romantically involved with Kaili, then a member of the socialist group (S&D).

Under the leadership of both Panzeri and Cozzolino, Giorgi worked in the parliament's delegation for relations with Maghreb countries, known as DMAG, which covers Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia.

Giorgi was "immediately fired" following his arrest in December, a European Parliament spokesperson told Euronews.

Since then, Giorgi is believed to have adopted a collaborative attitude with the Belgian authorities, sharing key details on how the supposed graft operation worked behind the scenes.

According to documents obtained by Le Soir and La Repubblica, Francesco Giorgi has confessed to being part of an "organisation" used by Qatar and Morocco to influence European policy-making.

The former assistant has tried to exonerate Kaili by accusing his former boss, Andrea Cozzolino, and Marc Tarabella of accepting cash through Panzeri's management.

Giorgi acted as translator for Panzeri, who does not speak English, during meetings with Qatari officials that were intercepted by the Belgian police, Le Soir also reported.

Kaili's lawyer says she feels "betrayed" by her partner because Giorgi's supposed participation in the criminal scheme turned the Greek MEP, by extension, into an accomplice.