A judge said Eva Kaili, who denies involvement in a European Parliament corruption and bribery network, could be abducted by Doha spies
The Greek MEP at the heart of the “Qatargate” scandal will be held in detention over Christmas after a judge said she could be kidnapped by Qatari spies if released.
Eva Kaili, 44, who pleaded her innocence over allegations she was involved in a corruption and bribery network within the European Parliament, had asked to be released under electronic surveillance to spend the festive period with her two-year-old daughter.
But the judge extended her pre-trial petition period by one month, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement. She has 24 hours to appeal against the decision, in which case she will appear before the judge within 15 days.
Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, her lawyer, had claimed on Thursday that the Belgian prosecutor had argued his client should not be released because she could be kidnapped by Qatari spies and smuggled out of the country.
He also accused the prosecutor of acting politically to show authorities in Brussels were “relentless”.
Four people arrested after cash discoveries
Ms Kaili is one of four people who have been charged with corruption and money laundering after investigators in Belgian discovered €1.5 billion in cash across a number of properties in Brussels, including €150,000 in her apartment.
The other suspects are Francesco Giorgi, her husband, former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri, and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the head of an NGO.
They are accused of participation in a criminal network that has accepted cash, expensive holidays and other gifts to influence EU decision-making in favour of Qatar and Morocco.
Mr Giorgi has partially confessed his involvement, according to Belgian daily Le Soir, but the other three suspects have all pleaded their innocence.
“She has never been bribed. Ms Kaili is innocent,” Mr Dimitrakopoulos said.
On Wednesday, he claimed that his client had been betrayed by her husband. “She trusted him, he betrayed her,” Mr Dimitrakopoulos said.
In his apparent confession, Mr Giorgi claimed he had handled cash on behalf of Mr Panzeri’s alleged scheme.
On Thursday, the Greek anti-money laundering authority announced it had put an asset freeze on a plot of land bought by Ms Kaili and Mr Giorgi on the island of Paros, pending an investigation into their alleged activities in Greece.
They also froze their joint bank account that had been used to buy the land in March last year.