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MEP Eva Kaili denies role in European Parliament corruption scandal

Eva Kaili has been charged with corruption, participation in a criminal organisation and money laundering.
Eva Kaili has been charged with corruption, participation in a criminal organisation and money laundering. Copyright European Union, 2022.
Copyright European Union, 2022.
By Euronews
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Eva Kaili, the former European Parliament vice president who was arrested in December, broke her silence with three interviews in European newspapers.

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Eva Kaili, the MEP at the centre of the European Parliament corruption scandal, broke her silence over the weekend in three separate interviews with European newspapers, defending herself against the criminal charges she faces.

The former European Parliament vice president was arrested last December and charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering.

The investigation centres on a cash-for-favours scheme that allegedly involved bribes paid by Qatar and Morocco to influence policy-making inside the European Parliament.

The probe has brought charges against six individuals in Belgium and Italy, including three sitting lawmakers, and raised serious questions of foreign interference and illicit lobbying.

But Kaili, the most high-profile of the suspects, insisted on her innocence in interviews published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and French newspaper Libération.

They were published after the MEP was released from electronic surveillance following four months in prison and nearly two months monitored at her home.

The interviews occurred before a court order that she not speak to the press, Libération reported.

'I know I look guilty'

Kaili told the French newspaper that she indeed found hundreds of thousands of euros in the home she shared with partner Francesco Giorgi after his arrest last year.

She gave that cash to her father to bring back to his hotel, which was found by Belgian authorities. Police apprehended the father but he was later released without charges.

"I just wanted to get this money that didn't belong to me out of my house. I can't explain it differently. I know I look guilty," she told Libération.

Kaili told Corriere della Sera that she was put in solitary confinement after her arrest, denouncing the conditions in Belgian prisons as "inhumane."

She also defended her previous meetings with Gulf countries, stating that as a parliament vice president in charge of relations with the Middle East, she often met ambassadors and ministers and planned official visits.

Weeks before her arrest, the lawmaker delivered a speech before the hemicycle in which she strongly defended Qatar's track record on human rights in the context of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

She told El Mundo that she would be delighted if "someone could explain to me how what I have said differs from European politics."

Kaili claimed that Belgian secret services monitored her due to her work on the parliament's committee investigating the use of Pegasus spyware in Europe, claiming that this was the "real scandal."

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She also accused Belgian authorities of trying to force her to name people in the case in exchange for a deal, stating that if she had pleaded guilty she could have gone back to her daughter.

Her lawyer, Sven Mary, told Euronews earlier this year that the Belgian authorities had not found any new evidence to justify Kaili’s imprisonment. Shortly after, she was released from prison with electronic surveillance.

Last month, the MEP was no longer required to wear an electronic bracelet.

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor's office told Euronews that they would not react to Kaili's comments but specified that the matter would be decided by the justice system.

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A spokesperson added that Kaili had been allowed to see her daughter twice a month, which he said is the standard in preventive detention.

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