High-Ranking European Parliament Member Charged With Accepting Bribes

The socialist vice president of the European Union parliament was arrested Friday in Belgium on charges that she took bribes from Qatar to “influence the economic and political decisions” of the EU.

Eva Kaili, 44, of Greece, was arrested amid at least 16 raids conducted by police in Brussels as part of an investigation into official corruption stemming from a collaboration between several socialist members of the EU parliament and Arab states Qatar and Morocco.

Police picked up Kaili along with four Italian members of the EU parliament. The Greek vice president was then suspended from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) coalition in the EU parliament. The Greek socialist Pasok-Movement for Change Party also immediately suspended Kaili after her arrest.

Kaili’s “life partner,” Italian Francesco Giorgi, was one of the other four members arrested Friday.

One of the arrest warrants issued to Belgian police said the defendants were “intervening politically with members working at the European Parliament for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco.” Belgian prosecutors claimed in court documents that more than $632,000 in euros was seized along with computers and electronic devices during the arrest raids.

Friday’s raids were reported to be only a part of a much larger investigation into “criminal organization, corruption, and money laundering.”

Reports further indicate that Qatar was spending large sums through third-party conduits to attempt to influence the European Parliament.

Qatar has been prominently reported in the news in recent weeks, as the oil-rich nation is hosting the World Cup soccer tournament held every four years. Qatar has a long-standing international reputation as a violator of fundamental human rights.

Claims have surfaced that thousands of migrant workers died while constructing multiple World Cup stadiums since the country was announced as this year’s host a decade ago. Qatar’s government acknowledged last month that at least 400 migrants were killed during the construction projects.

Kaili has heaped praise on Qatar recently, saying it is a “frontrunner in labor rights” and a nation with a “new generation of intelligence, high-educated people.”

She has also said Qataris are “peace negotiators” and “good neighbors and partners.” The Qatari state media has posted a video of Kaili proclaiming that the “World Cup for Arabs has been a great tool for political transformation and reforms.”