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EU parliament sacks vp charged in Qatar bribe probe

STRASBOURG, FRANCE: The European Parliament sacked considered one of its vice presidents on Tuesday amid corruption accusations allegedly linked to World Cup host Qatar, as EU officers scrambled to comprise a widening scandal.
The meeting’s MEPs voted 625 to at least one to strip Greek socialist MEP Eva Kaili of her vice presidential function, regardless of her lawyer declaring that she was harmless and “has nothing to do with Qatar’s bribes”.
The federal government of Qatar has denied any connection to any wrongdoing within the case.
Kaili’s arrest got here throughout a sequence of police raids throughout houses and workplaces in and close to Brussels by which at the least 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in money was seized.
Because the 44-year-old former TV information presenter sat in a Brussels jail cell, her colleagues within the Strasbourg parliament scrambled to distance themselves from the scandal.
The parliament’s president, Maltese conservative Roberta Metsola, known as the sacking vote after reaching settlement with the leaders of the parliament’s political groupings, amid fears the scandal may unfold.
On Wednesday, a Belgian choose will resolve whether or not to keep up Kaili and three co-accused in custody pending trial.
She was arrested final week throughout a sequence of raids by Belgian graft investigators on the houses and workplaces of a number of MEPs and their assistants or associates.
Kaili is the one serving MEP to have been charged. However a number of extra have had their workplaces put underneath police seal whereas investigations proceed.
A Belgian judicial supply, confirming experiences in Belgian newspapers Le Soir and Knack, mentioned 600,000 euros have been discovered on the house of 1 suspect, Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri; 150,000 euros in Kaili’s flat; and 750,000 in her father’s lodge room.
As a result of a few of the money was present in Kaili’s house, a judicial supply mentioned, Belgium concluded that she was caught red-handed, thus stopping her from asserting immunity from prosecution usually prolonged to serving MEPs.
A Belgian judicial supply instructed AFP that investigators consider that figures representing Gulf monarchy Qatar had been paying off European politicians to burnish the nation’s picture.
Qatar is a key power provider to Europe, and performs an essential middleman function in a number of diplomatic tangles.
But it surely has additionally been criticised for the alleged mistreatment of migrant staff, most notoriously those that constructed the World Cup stadiums.
Kaili visited Qatar simply earlier than the competitors and known as it a “front-runner in labour rights”, to the consternation of activists and a few of her colleagues. She has additionally defended Qatar’s quest to win EU visa waivers for its residents.
Qatar denies any involvement in European corruption.
“Any claims of misconduct by the State of Qatar are gravely misinformed,” an official instructed AFP.
Kaili’s lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos instructed AFP that she “didn’t know of the existence” of the money discovered at her house.
Her lawyer mentioned she was “harmless”, and he denied what he mentioned have been “false rumours” that she had obtained bribes from Qatar.
He mentioned her associate, Francesco Giorgi, may have “solutions concerning the existence of this money.”
However Brussels has been rocked by the claims, and Metsola, defending the integrity of the parliament, has sought to painting the alleged bribes as an assault on democracy.
Some MEPs braced for extra revelations. “I am fearful that what we’re seeing right here is simply the tip of the iceberg,” warned German social democrat Rene Repasi.
Metsola additionally promised Qatar’s EU visa waiver bid can be despatched again to a parliamentary committee for additional scrutiny, delaying or derailing the measure.
Kaili was considered one of six individuals arrested. 4 have been charged with “legal organisation, corruption and cash laundering” and two launched.
A kind of launched was Luca Visentini, the overall secretary of the Worldwide Commerce Union Confederation, a worldwide labour physique that has pushed Qatar on labour rights.
“Ought to any additional allegations be made, I stay up for the chance to refute them, as I’m harmless of any wrongdoing,” he mentioned in an ITUC assertion.
The European Parliament is anticipated to approve a second textual content calling for extra transparency to discourage corruption in European establishments, which is able to go to a vote on Thursday.

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