The Greek Vice-President of the European Parliament, Eva Kayli, was imprisoned in Brussels on Sunday on charges of “corruption” in an investigation by a Belgian judge into large sums that Qatar may have paid to influence decisions within this major European institution.
A judicial source confirmed to Agence France-Presse that Kylie, 44, and three other people were imprisoned by a judge in Brussels, two days after their arrest, as part of an investigation targeting the actions of the country organizing the 2022 World Cup.
The judicial source explained that Kylie could not benefit from her parliamentary immunity because she was arrested “in flagrante delicto”.
The source confirmed press reports that Kylie was in possession of “bags full of banknotes” on Friday evening, when they were stopped by the Belgian police.
The Public Prosecution also confirmed the search of the home of Kylie, who was a broadcaster on Greek television, on Friday, as well as the home of another member of the European Parliament, the Belgian Mark Tarabella, on Saturday evening.
And the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, returned from Malta to Brussels to support the federal police in searching Tarabella’s house, according to her spokesperson.
He explained that the presence of the president is required in such an investigation, which targets a member of the European Parliament elected in Belgium “as required by the Belgian constitution.”
On Sunday, the Federal Public Prosecution did not mention any names when it announced the pretrial detention of four of the six people who were arrested during the past 48 hours on charges of “belonging to a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption.” The judge released the other two people.
The six people were arrested Friday in Brussels after at least 16 searches, including the former Italian Socialist European MP Pierre Antonio Panziri and the new Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation Luca Vezentini, who is also Italian.
And the Belgian press reported that the investigation extended to Kylie’s father, as he was caught carrying a large amount of cash “in a bag.”
It is suspected in the case that “large sums of money were paid or large gifts were given to people who hold political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament that allow influencing its decisions,” according to what the Public Prosecutor’s Office repeated, on Sunday.
The case exploded in the midst of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while the host country is making efforts due to criticism in the field of human rights, especially workers’ rights.
The case also came on the eve of a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where the relationship between the European Union and Qatar is expected to be discussed, among other things.
Eva Kayley visited Qatar in early November, where she praised, in the presence of Qatari Minister of Labor Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri, the reforms implemented by the emirate in the field of working conditions.
And according to what was reported by “Agence France Presse”, the European representative said on November 22 from the rostrum of the European Parliament that “Qatar is a leading country in the field of workers’ rights.”
This statement sparked controversy among the left and liberals, and returned to the minds of many members of the European Parliament after the announcement of her arrest.
French member of the European Parliament, Pierre Karliskind, said Saturday on Twitter, “I’m afraid I understand now…”.
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, has called for a meeting of the heads of the groups in Strasbourg to discuss the Belgian judicial investigation, two sources in Parliament told AFP on Sunday.
Members of the European Parliament from the Greens and the Social Democratic bloc oppose the start of negotiations on raising entry visas for Qataris to the European Union.
And Mitsola announced, on Saturday, that she had temporarily stripped her Greek deputy, Eva Kaili, of her duties, including her representation in the Middle East.
Left-wing deputies in the European Parliament, including Philip Lamberts, who spoke on behalf of the Green bloc, demanded the resignation of Kylie, whose dismissal was announced by the Greek Socialist Party (Pasok Kinal) on Friday evening.