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What is the relationship of two human rights organizations with the European Union corruption scandal?

The Belgian police found these money packages in the former member of the European Parliament, Pierre Antonio Panzieri.

© Belgian Federal Police / AFP

The historic corruption scandal involving politician Eva Kylie continues. As it turns out now, employees of two NGOs working for human rights and fighting corruption are also involved in this case. This is known on the sixth day.

After a nerve-wracking weekend with several apartments searched in Brussels and arrests made, the corruption scandal surrounding the European Parliament is far from over. It emerged on Friday that a Gulf state, presumably the host of the World Cup, Qatar, had reportedly tried to influence the committee’s decisions with large sums of money and gifts. At the center of the scandal is the vice-president of the European Union, Eva Kayley. According to the prosecutor’s office, the authorities found “bags full of cash” in her apartment. To date, the Belgian police have seized nearly 1.5 million euros in 20 home searches.

Kylie was arrested over the weekend, along with five other suspects. Two of them have been released since Sunday. Kylie and four others remain in custody.

The most important questions and answers about the scandal in the heart of Europe:

Who is accused in the corruption scandal?

The central protagonist is Greek politician and deputy speaker of parliament Eva Kaili. In the run-up to the scandal, she attracted attention with her pro-Qatar stance. For example, after a meeting with Qatar’s labor minister, she praised the Gulf state for its labor rights, and cited the World Cup as “evidence” of “how sports diplomacy can lead to a historic transformation in a country whose reforms have inspired Arab states.” The Belgian authorities confiscated “bags full of cash” worth 600,000 euros from her apartment in Brussels.

Of the six other detainees, only three were known to the public:

  • Antonio Panziri: Leading MEPs in the Social Democrats group, left the EU Parliament in 2019 and founded the NGO “Fighting Impunity”
  • Alexander Kylis: Eva Kylie’s father
  • Francesco GiorgiPartner: Eva Kylie,
  • Luca Visentini: Secretary General of the European Federation of Trade Unions

Vicentini and Kylie’s father were released on Sunday. Eva Kylie, as well as Panziri, Georgi and an unnamed person have been in custody since then. They are accused of involvement in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption. Two people have also been arrested in Italy in connection with the EU corruption scandal: Banzi’s wife and daughter.

What does all this mean for Eva Kylie?

The PASOK socialist party disqualified the 44-year-old on Friday. A day later, the Social Democratic group in the European Parliament suspended the politician’s membership. In addition, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, withdrew Kayley “with immediate effect from all powers, duties and functions” as one of her 14 deputies. Finally, on Tuesday, Kylie lost her position as Vice-President of the European Parliament. A decision will be made on Wednesday on whether she should remain in detention.

Kylie pleads her innocence through her lawyer. “It has nothing to do with money flows from Qatar, absolutely nothing,” says Michalis Dimitrakopoulos. She is “innocent”. Only her accomplice, the Italian Francesco Giorgi, who was arrested for corruption, could give “answers about the existence of this money”. Her lawyer, Andre Resopoulos, told AFP on Wednesday that the hearing had been postponed to December 22 at the defense’s request. Until then, Kylie will likely remain in custody.

What does the NGO “Fighting Impunity” have to do with this?

Francesco Giorgi, Eva Kaili’s partner, worked in the office of a member of the European Parliament. He also chaired the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee until 2019. He also served as a founding advisor to former EU politician Antonio Panziri. He headed the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee until 2019.

Investigations are also underway against two NGO employees, whose names the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not want to be disclosed. The two are said to have last worked with two MEPs: Marc Tarabella, whose flat was also searched, and Social Democrat Marie Arena. Both parliamentarians with Panziri simultaneously 2021 Report on Impunity by NGOs Fighting Impunity Participate – but, according to a report by the Austrian newspaper “Standard”, it denied any connection to the institution and the allegations related to the corruption scandal.

What is the burden on the NGO?

According to the foundation, the “fight against impunity” is committed to human rights around the world. It is also committed to fighting corruption. Members included Above all the parliamentarians of the European Union, who have not participated in the body since 2019. However, only the so-called “honorary members” are included. The Team section is empty.

The club is particularly burdened by the General Secretary of the Confederation of European Trade Unions, Luca Visentini. According to his own statements, he attended a number of NGO conferences, but then it turned out that “it was a criminal organization that was procuring bribes in the name and on behalf of the government of Qatar, and Morocco seems to be in order to try to get better terms from the European Parliament.” He submitted the necessary information to the judiciary and was released on this basis “with some minimum conditions”.

Who is still sophisticated in the scam?

As reported by the newspaper “Neue Züricher Zeitung”, Nicolo Vega Talamanca was also among those arrested in Brussels. He is the Secretary General of the “No Peace Without Justice” organization, which, according to the newspaper “New Zealand”, is located in the same building as “Fight Impunity” in Brussels. The extent to which Vega Talamanca was involved in the scandal remains unclear.

Have organizations already responded?

No. There are no public reactions to the reported communications with allegations of EU corruption on NGO websites.

Sources: Fight impunity“,”There is no peace without justice“,”NZ“,”standardWith materials from Agence France-Presse and the Department of Political Affairs

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