BRUSSELS (AP) — Lawyers for the former European Parliament vice-president suspected of being at the center of one of the European Union’s biggest corruption scandals requested on Thursday that she be released from prison wearing a police tracking device.
Belgian prosecutors accuse Eva Kaili of corruption, membership of a criminal organization and money laundering. She has been held in custody since Dec. 9. Her partner, Francesco Giorgi, an adviser at the European Parliament, is also in jail on the same charges.
The two are suspected of working together with Giorgi’s one-time boss, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former EU lawmaker. According to arrest warrants, Panzeri “is suspected of intervening politically with members working at the European Parliament for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco, against payment.”
“We’ve asked that … Kaili be put under a system of electronic surveillance, with a bracelet,” her Belgian lawyer, Andre Risopoulos, told reporters outside the Brussels courthouse where judges were considering whether to release her. Kaili’s legal team said they expect a decision later Thursday.
Risopolous said that Kaili, a Greek former TV news presenter, “is playing an active role in the investigation. She rejects all corruption allegations against her.” He and Kaili’s family lawyer from Greece, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, declined to comment further about the hearing.
Kaili, 44, was removed from her post at the European Parliament last week after charges were laid against her. The EU assembly has halted work on files involving Qatar as it investigates what impact the cash-and-gifts-for-influence bribery scandal might have had. Qatar vehemently denies involvement.
The scandal hit the spotlight just as Qatar was hosting the soccer World Cup. The small, energy-rich Gulf nation has seen its international profile rise as Doha used its massive offshore natural gas fields to make the country one of the world’s richest per-capita, and to power its regional political ambitions.
Morocco has yet to respond to allegations that its ambassador to Poland might have been involved.
Belgian prosecutors are also seeking the hand-over of Panzeri’s wife and daughter from Italy, where they are being held under house arrest, on similar charges.
A fourth suspect in Belgium — Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, secretary-general of the non-governmental organization No Peace Without Justice — was also charged over the affair. He has been released from prison but must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
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