Lawyer says lifting MEP Kaili’s immunity was ‘illegal’
Greek lawyer Spyros Pappas has filed an appeal to the General Court of the EU against the European Public Prosecutor’s decision to request the lifting of the immunity of MEP Eva Kaili, claiming that it was illegal because none of the conditions for such a move were met.
Kaili, a Greek Social Democrat, has been imprisoned for three months now and faces accusations related to the Qatargate corruption scandal that has rocked the European Parliament.
However, this appeal concerns another case that erupted just a few days after Qatargate and was related to her parliamentary assistants’ salaries in the Parliament.
On 15 December, the European Public Prosecutor requested the lifting of Kaili’s immunity, and EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola immediately initiated the relevant procedures.
The content of the appeal has not been made public. Still, EURACTIV was informed the appeal suggests that the first condition for lifting an EU lawmaker’s immunity – to be caught in the act of committing an offence – was not met, considering that the alleged offences related to assistants’ salaries took place in the 2014-2020 period.
Another condition for lifting immunity is when the potential suspect is seen as likely to prevent authorities from conducting a full investigation.
EURACTIV has learnt that Kaili’s side insists that this condition was not met either, considering that OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud unit, had already investigated the matter, and Kaili would not have been able to obstruct it.
Contacted by EURACTIV, lawyer Spyros Pappas confirmed that he had filed an appeal but did not want to comment on its content until the hearing in court.
“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,” he said. [Spyros Pappas lawyer]
EURACTIV asked Pappas whether this case could be linked to Qatargate and how Kaili was arrested.
Pappas replied that “there is definitely an issue”, considering that Kaili was not caught in the act of committing an offence in Qatargate either.
“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,” he said.
After Kaili’s partner Francesco 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.
Her father was arrested outside a Brussels hotel carrying a suitcase with €150,000 inside. After his arrest, the police raided Kaili’s apartment and arrested her too.
But Pappas is seeking to take the case a step further, arguing that even the raid in her European Parliament office was illegal.
“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.
He also highlighted the “coincidence” of Qatargate with the salaries issue, saying that the latter could have been sorted out at the administration level within the European Parliament “as has been the case for many other similar situations”.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com – Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic)