Eva Kaili, the Greek MEP who has become the most recognisable face of the corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament, was released from prison on Friday, where she spent the last four months in pre-trial detention.
The embattled lawmaker was then placed under house arrest in her apartment in Brussels, wearing an electronic bracelet.
She will have to be available for authorities at all times and undergo regular hearings to examine her conditional release, which was unexpectedly granted on Wednesday.
“Thank you. My daughter is waiting for me. So I am very happy that I will be with her in a bit. So thank you. We will talk soon,” Kaili told reporters who were waiting outside her apartment.
Then, speaking in Greek, Kaili vowed to continue the legal fight with the “decisiveness” of her defence team.
Kaili was joined in the car by her Greek lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, and her father Alexandros.
The Greek MEP was first arrested on 9 December, when she was reportedly caught in the act and her parliamentary immunity was immediately lifted.
The 44-year-old lawmaker was then charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering, charges that still stand.
Her arrest sent shockwaves across Brussels and brought to light an investigation into a cash-for-favours scheme involving “large” sums of money and “substantial” gifts allegedly paid out by Qatar and Morocco to influence European policy-making.
Both countries deny any wrongdoing.
Over €1.5 million in cash were seized by the Belgian police across dozens of home and office searches.
In the aftermath of the scandal, Kaili was removed from her position as one of the European Parliament’s vice presidents and her party membership was suspended, a dramatic turn of events for a lawmaker who had until then been considered a rising star in the hemicycle and media-friendly personality.
The 44-year-old remains a non-attached MEP and is entitled to a monthly post-tax salary of €7,146 and half of her €4,778 monthly allowance.
Kaili was one of the five individuals arrested and criminally charged by Belgian authorities, together with her domestic partner Francesco Giorgi, former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella.
The four men had previously been granted their release from prison, making Kaili the last defendant to obtain a conditional liberation.
Kaili will not spend her house arrest in the same residence as Francesco Giorgi, with whom she has a two-year-old daughter, her defence team has confirmed.
Giorgi used to work as a parliamentary assistant, first for Pier Antonio Panzeri, the presumed ringleader behind the corruption scheme, and later for Andrea Cozzolino, an Italian MEP who is fighting extradition from Italy to Belgium.
Panzeri signed in January a plea deal with the authorities under which he admits his criminal participation in bribery and commits to sharing “revealing” details about the cash-for-favours scheme.
Source: Euro News