European Parliament removes Kaili from post over Qatar graft charges

Date:

  • Kaili was one of four arrested in Belgium
  • The Greek politician’s lawyer says she denies wrongdoing
  • Police found cash in raids, some in a suitcase at the hotel
  • The role of the European Parliament as the bloc’s moral compass is at stake

STRASBOURG, Dec. 13 (Reuters) – The European Parliament on Tuesday stripped Greek lawmaker Eva Kaili of her senior assembly post over allegations that World Cup host Qatar bribed her to influence decision-making, allegations she has denied.

Kaili, one of 14 vice-presidents in parliament, was one of four people arrested and charged in Belgium over the scandal that has sparked outrage in Brussels and threatens to damage the image of the European Union.

The case, in which police discovered piles of cash, casts a shadow over the European Parliament, which aims to be a moral compass, criticizing global rights violations and holding EU governments to account for any hint of impropriety.

Qatar has denied any allegations.

Parliament moved swiftly to ease ties with Kaili, with 625 MEPs voting in favor of the move, only one against and two abstaining.

“The integrity of @Europarl_EN comes first,” President Roberta Metsola tweeted.

Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, Kaili’s lawyer in Greece, said earlier on Tuesday: “Her position is that she is innocent, I can tell you that.”

“She has nothing to do with financing from Qatar, nothing, explicit and unequivocal,” Dimitrakopoulos told Open TV in an initial public response.

Several EU countries, including Germany, said the credibility of the 27-nation union was at stake. Countries that have faced criticism from the assembly, including EU member Hungary, said they had lost the moral tour de force.

Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Qatar’s labor minister, speaks with Greek Eva Kaili, Vice President of the European Parliament, at a rally in Qatar on Oct. 31, 2022 in this image from a social media handout. Twitter/Ministry of Labor – State of Qatar via REUTERS

“From now on, the European Parliament will no longer be able to speak credibly about corruption,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote on Facebook.

Belgian police searched 19 houses and the offices of parliament from Friday to Monday as part of their investigation and seized computers, mobile phones and cash, some of which was found in a suitcase in a hotel room.

None of the four charged persons have been formally identified, but Kaili’s name was quickly leaked to the press.

Belgian prosecutors said they had suspected for more than four months that a Gulf state was trying to buy influence in Brussels. While no state was publicly named by prosecutors, a source with knowledge of the matter said it was Qatar.

Several European lawmakers called on Kaili to stop.

“Given the size of the corruption scandal, this is the least we can expect from her,” said MEP Manon Aubry, co-chair of the left-wing group.

Manfred Weber, from the conservative European People’s Party, said: “Our colleagues in the European Parliament are deeply shocked. These developments are a heavy burden.”

Greek authorities on Monday froze Kaili’s assets in her home country, while the Greek socialist PASOK party said it would expel her from its ranks.

Kaili, 44, a Socialist MEP, was among a group of young aspiring Greek politicians emerging from the debilitating debt crisis that engulfed Greece from 2010 to 2015, where the country required three international bailouts.

Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop, Karolina Tagaris, Clement Rossignol, Max Schwarz, Lefteris Papadimas, Michele Kambas; Written by Ingrid Melander; Edited by Arun Koyyur, Edmund Blair and Crispian Balmer

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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