Eva Kaili in Athens on New Year's Eve - What a Belgian publication says

Eva Kaili

According to a Belgian publication, Eva Kaili will be in Athens on New Year's Eve, separately from her ex-partner Francesco Giorgi.

"The former vice-president of the European Parliament and her partner Francesco Giorgi, who are both accused in connection with the Qatargate case, will have a better holiday than last year, when they were... in prison," writes Sudinfo newspaper.

Eva Kaili, according to the publication, has permission from the investigator to travel within the Schengen zone. So, on Sunday night she will celebrate with her child and the rest of her loved ones in Athens.

Francesco Giorgi will spend the holidays with his parents and brother.

Kaili helped Greek companies evade Russian sanctions, claims Le Soir

Eva Kaili – one of the key figures implicated in the Qatargate corruption scandal – helped two Greek shipping companies avoid being adversely affected by EU sanctions on Russia, Le Soir reports.

Citing notes written by the Greek MEP's former partner, Francesco Giorgi, the newspaper alleges that Kaili helped Greek businessman Evangelos Marinakis acquire four oil tankers for $200 million from Sovcomflot, Russia's largest shipping company, just days before an EU ban on transactions with Russia-owned entities was set to begin in May last year.

Giorgi, an Italian national who previously worked as a parliamentary assistant to Pier Antonio Panzeri, another central Qatargate figure, also wrote that Kaili helped a second Greek shipowner, George Prokopiou, export Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) by putting him in contact with a former senior European official who subsequently lobbied the EU to exempt LNG from the list of sanctioned Russian goods.

"Two shipowners asked Eva if she knew anyone at the EU who was dealing with sanctions against Russia because they were concerned," Giorgi wrote. "We talked about it and I suggested a person of my acquaintance, Mario Mauro, former [Italian] Minister of Defence, ex-MEP and now lobbyist."

Giorgi added that Mauro suggested that he contact Spyros Pappas, a Greek lawyer and former Director General of the European Commission who was already working as Kaili's defence attorney in an internal parliamentary probe into the alleged embezzlement of European Parliament funds, in a case formally distinct from the Qatargate inquiry.

Pappas is alleged to have then used his influence among senior European Commission officials to help both Marinakis and Prokopiou achieve their respective aims.

Is the probe petering out?

The new allegations against Kaili and Giorgi come as the original Qatargate case appears to be losing momentum.

Indeed, on Thursday Politico reported that allegations of prosecutors' misconduct by Kaili and Giorgi "may very well succeed" in ending the investigation entirely.

In particular, Giorgi, who has previously admitted to accepting bribes from Morocco and Qatar, now claims that his confessions were obtained under duress.

"Whatever Giorgi has declared or written during his detention was under extreme pressure and preoccupation regarding the fact that his daughter was left without her parents," his lawyer, Pierre Monville, told Politico.

In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Kaili similarly accused the Belgian justice system of relying on "extorted confessions where facts do not matter" and described the methods used by Belgian investigators as "really shocking".

She also claimed that her parliamentary immunity was violated when investigators seized €750,000 in cash from a suitcase carried by her father in a hotel in central Brussels in December last year. Kaili alleges that the money in fact belonged to Panzeri.

Furthermore, Kaili claimed that she "never had any relations with the" €150,000 in cash separately seized from her and Giorgi's apartment around the same time, arguing instead that the funds had been paid by Panzeri to Giorgi to settle previous debts.

"There is absolutely nothing on me," she said.

Repeating previous allegations, Kaili also accused prosecutors of double standards for charging her with corruption whilst allegedly ignoring evidence of malfeasance by Belgian MEP Marie Arena.

"There has been a presumption of innocence for one person in spite of all the evidence in the case file that is there for everyone to see, and a presumption of guilt for the rest of us," she added.

Marie Arena has denied allegations of involvement in the case.

READ MORE: Fredi Beleri appears before Albania’s special appeals court: “I am still jailed with a forged criminal record.”

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