BRUSSELS – A lawyer for Eva Kaili, a Greek Member of the European Parliament, who is currently in detention facing corruption charges allegedly tied to bribery by Qatar, stated that the lifting of her immunity in another case was unjustified as she seeks release.
According to EURACTIV, her attorney, Spyros Pappas, filed an appeal to the European Union General Court against the European Public Prosecutor’s (EPPO) decision to request the lifting of her immunity. Kaili, a Greek Social Democrat, has been imprisoned for three months, and was reportedly unhappy that her partner, Francesco Giorgi, was allowed to be released, as they have a two-year-old daughter.
While her appeal is not over being arrested on the corruption charges, the site said that it is related to her parliamentary assistants’ salaries in the Parliament. EPPO requested the lifting of Kaili’s immunity, and EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola immediately started it.
Although the content of the appeal has not been made public, the site stated that it is over allegations that since she was not caught in the act of a crime, she should still be protected from prosecution.
EURACTIV asked Pappas whether this case could be linked to Qatargate, and how Kaili was arrested, and he responded that, “There is definitely an issue,” as he said she was not caught committing a crime in the ongoing case.
He added, “The police raided her apartment after first arresting her father some miles away – outside a hotel, with the infamous suitcase presumably taken from her apartment.”
After Giorgi was arrested, she called her father to pick up a suitcase with cash which she later claimed belonged to the alleged mastermind behind Qatargate, Antonio Panzeri, who is said to be cooperating with authorities.
Kaili’s father was arrested outside a Brussels hotel carrying a suitcase with 150,000 euros ($158,587) inside. The police then raided Kaili’s apartment, where more cash was said to be stashed, and arrested her.
“The sealing of the offices of Kaili and her assistants was a violation of the premises of the European Parliament. This could have been allowed only after permission from the Court of Justice of the EU, but there was none,” Pappas said.
EPPO stated that the request to lift Kaili’s immunity, along with that of a second Greek MEP, Maria Spyraki, was based on a report from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which relates to “suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance.”
Pappas told POLITICO that the request for waiving immunity relates to “facts dating back to past years, without the requirement of the auto-investigation, and despite the fact that the relevant investigation has already been completed by the competent and independent OLAF service.”
Although immunity could also be lifted if the potential suspect is likely to prevent authorities from conducting a full investigation, it was not met, according to her lawyers. They stated that OLAF had already investigated the issue, and Kaili was incapable of obstructing the probe.
Another one of Kaili’s lawyers, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, asked why Giorgi was released on electronic surveillance but she cannot be under the same conditions.
“It is obvious that Belgium’s criminal justice system rewards criminals who confess their guilt and smashes those who fight for their innocence, institutionally scorning the presumption of innocence, a pillar of European legal culture,” he said.
“Eva Kaili will manage; she will not confess to crimes she has not committed. She will continue to fight for her acquittal,” he told EURACTIV.