April 13. 2024. 5:29

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Qatargate: Belgian court prolongs pre-trial detention of Kaili, Tarabella

Belgian judges on Friday (3 March) prolonged the pre-trial detention of Greek MEP Eva Kaili, accused of receiving bribes from a corrupt network allegedly funded by Morocco and Qatar, for two more months.

A second MEP accused in the sprawling inquiry, Belgian Marc Tarabella, saw his pre-trial detention extended by one month, Brussels prosecutors announced.

Kaili, a former vice president of the European Parliament, has become the public face of a huge graft inquiry that sent shockwaves through the EU elected assembly and triggered international controversy.

Both Qatar and Morocco insist they played no role in the scandal, but prosecutors say the alleged ringleader — detained former Italian MEP turned lobbyist Pier Panzeri — has confessed to distributing cash bribes on their behalf to influence Brussels politicians.

Kaili, a 49-year-old former newsreader and rising star of European politics, has been detained for almost three months in a Belgian jail with limited access to her 24-month-old daughter.

Her partner, Francesco Giorgi, has been freed under electronic surveillance.

Qatargate: Kaili reacts negatively to partner’s release from jail

Francesco Giorgi, the partner of European Parliament former vice president Eva Kaili, has been freed from jail but will wear an electronic bracelet, according to a press release by the Belgian prosecution. This development prompted a negative reaction from Kaili.

Tarabella was detained and charged later than the first batch of suspects on 11 February.

MEP Marc Tarabella charged in EU graft probe

Prosecutors on Saturday (11 February) charged a Belgian lawmaker in the European parliament with corruption after searching his bank safe as part of a probe into a bribery scandal linked to Qatar that has rocked the EU.

His lawyer Maxime Toller insisted again Friday on his innocence and said he would continue to push for his release pending the eventual trial.

The first wave of arrests was launched on 9 December last year, when Belgian police seized more than 1.5 million euros in cash in raids around Brussels and arrested six suspects, including Kaili, Panzeri and Giorgi.