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European Parliament vice-president arrested in Qatar corruption probe

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A vice-president of the European Parliament and four other people were arrested by Belgian police on Friday in connection with a corruption case involving the Islamist government of Qatar.

Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP from the socialist Pasok party, is one of five people arrested and questioned by the police in Belgium following a series of searches carried out at 16 addresses in Brussels.

The country’s federal prosecutor said in a statement reported by AFP on Friday: “Today’s searches have enabled investigators to recover approximately 600,000 euros in cash. Computer equipment and cell phones were also seized. These elements will be analyzed as part of the investigations.

The prosecutor added that investigators “suspected a Gulf country [of influencing] the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament… by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts” to prominent members of the EU body.

Following the announcement of the arrests, Eva Kaili was suspended by the Socialists and Democrats group in parliament “with immediate effect” and was also removed from her socialist party Paso in Greece.

She had recently come under fire for standing up for Qatar, praising the country for its labor rights despite reports that thousands of migrant workers have died building stadiums for this year’s World Cup. Kaili said Qatar is a “frontrunner in labor rights”.

The Greek MEP, who is one of the 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament, also met with Qatar’s Labor Minister Ali bin Samikh Al Marri ahead of the World Cup.

Following the November meeting, she said, “I think the Arab World Cup has been a great tool for… political transformation and reform.

The decision to choose Qatar as host of the World Cup has been fraught with pitfalls and accusations of corruption, with FIFA – the governing body of international football – being accused by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of accepting bribes from Qataris in return for hospitality. rights.

Although Qatar is frequently criticized for its human rights by European leaders, countries in the bloc have increasingly turned to the Islamist kingdom to meet their energy needs following the deterioration of relations with Russia in the middle of the war in Ukraine.

Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed an agreement with Qatar to supply up to two million tonnes of natural gas to Germany per year.

Qatar is already one of the largest liquid natural gas (LNG) exporters to the bloc alongside the United States, Nigeria, Algeria and Russia.

According to the Belgian press, former Italian Socialist MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, who currently heads a Brussels-based non-profit organization called Fight Impunity, and another Italian, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Luca Visentini, were also reportedly among those arrested.

The other two people arrested are also believed to be Italians, but they had not been named at the time of publication.

Commenting on the arrests of POLITICS, PProfessor Alberto Alemanno of the The HEC Paris business school said: “This is the most shocking integrity scandal in EU history. It reveals the insufficiency of the EU’s ethical system applicable to its elected representatives as well as the absence of any attempt to regulate the lobbying of foreign influence.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka



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