BRUSSELS – Lawyers for Eva Kaili, a Greek Member of the European Parliament detained on charges of taking bribes from Qatar will ask a Belgian court again for her to be released pending trial.
The hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19, said the site EURACTIV, and comes as
an Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, said to be the mastermind of a conspiracy that has seen him, Kaili and her husband Franceco Giorgi, and Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, head of an NGO also in custody.
An investigation is centered around a bribery scheme in which Qatar – which denied everything – was allegedly trying to buy favor in the European Union through the European Parliament, which is largely powerless.
All matters related to the country have been suspended during the investigation, including a consideration to give Qataris visa-free travel in the 27-member bloc of member states.
Panzeri is said to be willing to spill the beans on the whole affair, news reports said, signing a repentance agreement in which he would receive a lesser sentence, the case apparently ready to further unfurl details.
Kaili has been imprisoned since Dec. 9 with Giorgi, but was earlier allowed a brief visit to see her infant daughter at the Brussels prison. She has denied knowing about bribery and her husband has taken the blame.
When she was informed about his arrest, she called her father, who was in Brussels and asked him to go to her place and take a suitcase which, according to her, belonged to Panzeri, the site added.
Asked by the Belgian authorities if she knew there was money in the suitcase, Kaili replied that she realized it when she opened the briefcase. “I knew Giorgi was keeping something in our apartment that belonged to Panzeri,” she said.
Earlier reports said that police found 150,000 euros ($162,232) in cash in their Brussels apartment and 600,000 euros ($648,927) in a suitcase carried by her father when he was stopped at a Brussels hotel, and later released.
Kaili also hinted that Panzeri took advantage of her immunity to hide his money in her apartment but Parliament President Roberta Metsola is reportedly set to ask for parliamentary protection to be lifted.
A source close to the matter told EURACTIV that from all accusations Kaili faces, it would be hard to prove she was not involved in money laundering and that she has little chance of being released after an earlier request to get out with an electronic bracelet had been denied.