Corruption scandal: MEPs Eva Kaili and Marc Tarabella to stay in pre-trial jail detention

Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella (L), and Greek MEP Eva Kaili (R). Both have been charged with corruption as part of a scandal known as Qatargate.
Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella (L), and Greek MEP Eva Kaili (R). Both have been charged with corruption as part of a scandal known as Qatargate. Copyright European Parliament
Copyright European Parliament
By Maria Psara & Alice Tidey
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Belgian authorities have released two people involved in the scandal but three remain behind bars.

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The pre-trial jail detention of MEPs Eva Kaili and Marc Tarabella, who are accused of being involved in the cash-for-favour scheme that has engulfed the European Parliament, was on Friday extended by Belgian authorities.

Greek MEP Kaili, who was arrested and jailed in early December, has had her detention extended by two months, the Federal prosecutor's office announced on Friday. Her Belgian counterpart will appear before judges again in a month.

Both have been charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering as part of an investigation into the illicit lobbying allegedly carried out by Qatar and Morocco in a bid to influence EU decision-making. 

Both countries have vehemently denied the claims.

Tarabella's lawyer, Maxim Töller, reiterated in a statement that his client is "an innocent man" and lambasted his continued detention as "difficult to accept".

He however welcomed "as good news" the decision to transfer him "to a prison closer to his family".

There was no word on Tarabelle'a attempts to have the investigating judge, Michel Claise, removed from the case for alleged bias.

Three other people have been charged as part of the investigation.

These include Francesco Giorgi, Kaili's life partner and a former parliamentary assistant, who was released last week but placed under electronic monitoring; NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca who was released from detention last month without conditions; and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri.

Panzeri, Giorgi's former boss and a former chair of the Parliament's delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and human rights subcommittee, has recognised being one of the leaders of the criminal network and cut a deal with Belgian authorities but remains in prison.

Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino, for whom Giorgi also worked and who also chaired the delegation for relations with Maghreb countries after Panzeri, is meanwhile wanted by the Belgian authorities but is fighting the extradition from his native country.

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