BRUSSELS — EU lawmaker Eva Kaili says she was wrongly jailed after spending more than four months in prison as part of an ongoing corruption probe at the European Parliament.
“I was put in jail for something I was not involved in,” Kaili told French daily Libération in her first extensive interview since she was arrested in the “Qatargate” investigation last December.
“It’s so obvious that I have no role in this case,” the Greek MEP said. “Everything I’ve said or done is public, including on Qatar, and I have no possibility of influencing anything whatsoever at the European Parliament.”
Libération said the interview was conducted at Kaili’s Brussels residence on April 25, 11 days after she was released from jail to house arrest. Her house arrest was lifted on May 25.
In the interview, Kaili stressed that she was “never mentioned” in the discussions between former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, the alleged ringleader of a bribery network who struck a plea deal with Belgian investigators in January, and his former assistant, Francesco Giorgi — who is also Kaili’s partner — which the police had monitored.
She was detained in December as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe by the Belgian authorities into suspected corruption within the European Parliament. Her arrest came after the Belgian police recovered €150,000 in cash from her apartment — where she lived with Giorgi — and a bag full of money carried by her father.
Asked in the interview about the circumstances of her arrest, Kaili said she only discovered the existence of that money — stashed in two safes in her apartment — on the day she was taken into custody.
Kaili also defended her partner, Giorgi, who she said was “under Panzeri’s influence,” and repeated previous complaints from her lawyers that she was then detained in inhumane conditions.
Kaili was stripped of her position as one of the vice presidents of the European Parliament over her role in the case, but remains a sitting MEP.
According to her lawyers, she is planning to return to work and wants to attend the Parliament’s next plenary session in Strasbourg in mid-June.