Qatargate: Greek MEP Eva Kaili tries to have the procedure canceled

In front of the Brussels courthouse, Eva Kaili has regained her splendor

Qatargate: Greek MEP Eva Kaili tries to have the procedure canceled

In front of the Brussels courthouse, Eva Kaili has regained her splendor. The former vice-president of the European Parliament, ousted following the Qatargate scandal, is trying everything: to have the procedure annulled. His counsel invokes parliamentary immunity which has not been properly lifted.

The search which was carried out in his apartment on December 9, 2022 and led to the discovery of 150,000 euros in bank notes should not have taken place before the request for lifting of immunity was filed by the prosecution before Parliament . However, the police services, informed by the Belgian secret services, justified their actions as flagrante delicto, which does not require the prior lifting of parliamentary immunity.

When the prosecution considers that a suspect is likely to prevent the authorities from carrying out a full investigation, they can do without the request to lift immunity. Was this the case for Eva Kaili? If she wins this part, the collection of evidence will be deemed illegitimate and it will not be enforceable in court.

In any case, it is this point of law that the Attorney General will examine this Tuesday by bringing together the many players in the case, starting with Pier Antonio Panzeri, the assumed organizer of influence peddling, considered “repentant” , and his accomplice, Francesco Giorgi, Eva Kaili's companion. The latter exonerates his partner of any participation in this influence peddling.

The request for the lifting of Eva Kaili's parliamentary immunity made by the Belgian prosecutor's office came on December 15, six days after the searches. Another socialist deputy, the Italian Andrea Cozzolino, also indicted, joined this strategy which aims to cancel the procedure.

The defense team of Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, who maintains his innocence, also says it is "in favor of the request for a review of the investigation" in order to "guarantee full respect of the law". “Furthermore, it is obvious that the repentance procedure must be dealt with, a procedure which, in our opinion, was manifestly applied without regard to respect for the law, which poses a legal problem and which prevented Mr. Tarabella from defending himself against equal arms, add the defenders of Marc Tarabella, implicated by Panzeri. It is time to shed light on what was promised during this surprising repentance,” his advice continues.

Judge Claise, originally in charge of the case, withdrew in June following the discovery of a family conflict of interest. Which has already quite affected the seriousness of the investigation. Finally, none of the Qatari – Minister of Labor Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri – or Moroccan – Abderrahim Atmoun – diplomats named in the police minutes are being prosecuted because they all benefit from diplomatic immunity, which is much more protective. The alleged corrupters will escape any prosecution.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament adopted an internal reform on September 13 aimed at toughening ethical rules. The Bischoff report gathered 505 votes in favor, 93 votes against and 52 abstentions. This report, negotiated within the Constitutional Affairs Committee, includes in Parliament's regulations the 14 points defended by President Roberta Metsola at the start of the year.

LR deputies François-Xavier Bellamy, Arnaud Danjean, Geoffroy Didier, Brice Hortefeux, Nadine Morano and Anne Sander abstained. They consider that the proposed measures do not really address the corruption problem raised by Qatargate, would not have prevented this affair and create an unnecessary or even harmful additional bureaucratic burden.

Among the new measures is the obligation to publish meetings with lobbies and diplomats, including parliamentary assistants, unless such a declaration could endanger others. “It will generate tedious paperwork,” laments François-Xavier Bellamy. And that will never stop cheaters from cheating. »

The internal regulations will establish the obligation to make a declaration of assets upon entry and at the end of the mandate. French MEPs are already responding to this before the HATVP (High Authority for Transparency in Public Life). Additional activities are still possible, but the earnings generated must be declared above 5,000 euros per year.

The declaration of conflicts of interest is reinforced. Friendship groups with foreign powers are regulated in such a way that they do not act in the name of the European Parliament. The Parliament office will have to take implementing measures in the coming months in view of the next mandate, after the European elections in June 2024. Comings and goings within the Parliament grounds will be checked by DG Safe, which owns the data – journalists will be exempt.

The subject of ethics will never be completely closed. On behalf of the Renew group, MEP Gilles Boyer calls “more than ever for the creation of a high independent European ethics authority, common to all the institutions of the European Union”. The Commission considers that, for the moment, there is no legal basis allowing it to do so and the other institutions are not really in favor of it, everyone wanting to remain master of their own home.