An overwhelming majority of members of the European Parliament voted on Tuesday to strip Eva Kaili of her position as vice-president of the body. The motion to terminate her mandate early was supported by 625 MEPs, while one voted against her and two abstained.
A two-thirds majority was required to cease being one of the body’s 14 vice presidents.
Who is Eva Kaili?
The 44-year-old Greek social democrat was arrested in Belgium on Friday on charges of being part of a group that accepted bribes from Qatar in exchange for promoting policies favorable to the Gulf state.
Kaili has already been suspended from her duties and is in police custody. More information on specific criminal charges against her is expected to be announced on Wednesday, Belgian officials said.
The Greek politician and his three alleged conspirators are accused of accepting lavish gifts and large sums of money from Qatari agents.
What is Kaili’s position?
Both Qatar and the lawmaker have denied any wrongdoing. Kaili’s lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said on Tuesday that his position was that he “had nothing to do with the Qatari bribes.”
Speaking on Greek television, Dimitrakopoulos said he would neither confirm nor deny that large sums of money were found at his home. Belgian prosecutors they claimed to have found hundreds of thousands of euros in the homes of multiple suspects and in a hotel room.
Several European lawmakers have called for Kaili to step down. “Given the scale of the corruption scandal, that’s the least we could expect from her,” MEP Manon Aubry, co-chair of the left group, told Reuters news agency.
Manfred Weber of the conservative European People’s Party said: “Our colleagues in the European Parliament have been deeply shocked. These developments place a heavy burden.”
What is the impact on parliament?
The scandal hit the reputation of the European Parliament hard. The body is the only EU institution made up of directly elected officials in the 27 member countries.
He also rocked the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the assembly, the second largest group in the 705-member body that brings together centre-left parties from across the bloc.
Several EU states, including Germany, said the credibility of the 27-nation union was at stake.
Asked if the European Parliament can undo the situation, Erik Marquardt, a Green Party MEP, told DW that “this damage cannot be undone”.
“It’s very easy to lose trust and very difficult to regain it. And now I think we can’t ask for people’s trust, we just have to do our homework,” he said, adding that it was time to check which rules should be strengthened and better enforced to prevent such scandals in the future.
es/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)