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Corruption investigation: Greek Kaili withdraws her mandate as vice-president of the European Parliament

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Sylvie Claire / December 11, 2022

Greek MEP Eva Kaili was arrested on Friday by Belgian police and stripped of her title and powers as vice-president of the European Parliament after suspicions of corruption linked to Qatar plagued the institution. In total, five people including the MEP were arrested.

 

An anti-corruption operation by the Belgian police in the European Parliament, linked to Qatar, caused strong reactions in Brussels on Saturday, with elected representatives and NGOs calling for an urgent debate on improving the rules of ethics in this major EU institution. In the evening, the president of the Parliament Roberta Metsola announced through a spokesperson the first sanction in this case: the Greek Eva Kaili, questioned on Friday by the Belgian police, was stripped of her title and her powers as vice-president.

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This is not an isolated incident,” said Transparency International in the wake of the police operation. “For several decades, the Parliament has allowed a culture of impunity to develop (…) and a total lack of independent ethical control. This control in the institution is “flawed”, added Alberto Alemanno, professor of law at the College of Europe in Bruges, on Twitter.

 

Five people, including Eva Kaili, were arrested Friday in Brussels after at least 16 searches in an investigation into suspicions of “substantial” payments of money by a Gulf country to influence the decisions of MEPs. The federal prosecutor’s office did not name the country, but a judicial source close to the case confirmed to AFP that it was Qatar, as revealed by the media Le Soir and Knack. “Any allegation of misconduct on the part of the State of Qatar shows a serious misinformation,” reacted Saturday an official of the Qatari government requested by AFP.

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The affair broke out in the middle of the World Cup 2022, when the host country must make efforts to defend its criticized reputation in terms of respect for human rights, particularly those of workers. And the case took on an extra dimension when the identity of the fifth person arrested on Friday evening was confirmed. Greek MEP Eva Kaili is a 44-year-old former TV presenter who has become a figure of social democracy in her country. She had until Saturday evening the title of vice-president of the European Parliament as 13 other elected officials.

 

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In light of the ongoing judicial investigations by the Belgian authorities, President Metsola has decided to suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties and tasks that have been delegated to Eva Kaili in her capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament,” a spokesperson for Mrs. Metsola announced in the evening.

 

By Friday evening, Ms. Kaili had been excluded from the Greek Socialist Party (Pasok-Kinal), which would also like to see her give up her seat in the European Parliament. The Socialist and Democrat Group (S&D) of the European Parliament announced her suspension “with immediate effect”. On Saturday, the hearings of five suspects continued in Brussels, according to a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office. A possible placement in custody by the investigating judge must be decided within 48 hours after the arrest, or Sunday at the latest.

 

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The investigation by Belgian judge Michel Claise is aimed at “corruption” and “money laundering” in organized gangs, according to the prosecutor. On Saturday, the Belgian newspaper L’Echo said that “several bags full of money” had been discovered at the Brussels home of Eva Kaili, which the police searched after catching the father of the elected representative himself in possession of a large amount of cash in “a suitcase”.

 

According to information confirmed to AFP, at least three suspects arrested Friday are Italians or of Italian origin: former Socialist MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri (who served from 2004 to 2019), the secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Luca Visentini, as well as Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary assistant of the S&D group, companion of Ms Kaili.

 

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In addition to the five in Belgium, there were two arrests in Italy, an Italian government source confirmed to AFP in Rome on Saturday. They are the wife and daughter of Mr. Panzeri. Eva Kaili had visited Qatar in early November where she had welcomed in the presence of the Qatari Minister of Labour the reforms of the emirate in this sector. “Qatar is a leader in labor rights”, the Greek woman had also stated on November 22 at the European Parliament.

 

These words, which had then caused a stir in the ranks of the left, came back to the minds of many MEPs when the arrest of Ms. Kaili was announced. French socialists denounced “a serious scandal”, while environmentalists Michèle Rivasi and David Cormand pointed to “a guilty complacency” of some social democrats (S&D) during the debate on Qatar at the last plenary session.

 

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The next session, which starts on Monday in Strasbourg, promises to be turbulent. French MEP Manon Aubry (radical left) demanded a new debate on the same subject, blasting “the aggressive lobbying of Qatar” on Saturday.

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Moscow attack: Vladimir Putin promises those responsible will all be “punished”, EI says four of its fighters carried out the attack

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Moscow attack: Vladimir Putin promises those responsible will all be “punished”, EI says four of its fighters carried out the attack, Magnate Daily
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Eva Deschamps / March 23,

 

At least 133 people were killed on Friday evening in an armed attack followed by a huge fire at a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, which was claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (EI).
 
The four perpetrators” of the attack were arrested “on their way to Ukraine”, said the Russian president on Saturday March 23.
 
The Russian president spoke at a time of terrible tragedy in Russia. “The four perpetrators” of the attack near Moscow were arrested “on their way to Ukraine”, he said in a televised speech broadcast the day after the murderous attack. “According to initial data [from investigators], on the Ukrainian side, a passage had been prepared for them to cross the border”, he continued, notes Le Monde.
 
The attack, which killed at least 133 people near Moscow, was in the eyes of the Kremlin leader a “bloody and barbaric act of terrorism”. “Peaceful, innocent people […] including children, teenagers and women” were killed, he continued, adding, “I express my deepest and most sincere condolences to those who have lost their loved ones.” A national day of mourning will be observed on March 24.
 
“War”. In his speech, Vladimir Putin assured that “those behind these terrorists will be punished” and that they “will have no future”. On Saturday, the Kremlin announced that eleven people had been arrested, including the four suspects who carried out the attack.

 
As a reminder, the Islamic State (EI) claimed responsibility for the attack. Its Afghan branch, the Islamic State in Khorassan, known as “EI-K”, is suspected of being behind the attack. According to EI, the attack is part of a “raging war” between the organization and countries fighting Islam, its Amaq news agency said in a statement.
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Princess Kate announces cancer diagnosis

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Princess Kate announces cancer diagnosis, Magnate Daily
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Sylvie Claire / March 23,

 

After weeks of silence from the British royal family, cancer-stricken Princess Kate has announced that she has begun chemotherapy.

 
Princess Kate has been diagnosed with cancer, Kensington Palace announced on Friday evening. The wife of the heir to the British throne has begun chemotherapy. “I’m fine,” assured the 42-year-old princess after her cancer diagnosis was announced. In a video, the princess explained, “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding. While I was recovering from surgery, it was an incredibly difficult two months for the whole family. But I had the benefit of a fantastic medical team who took great care of me, for which I am very grateful. In January, I underwent a major domino operation in London and, at the time, my condition was not thought to be cancerous“.
 
She continues: “The operation was successful, but tests carried out after the operation revealed the presence of cancer. My medical team therefore advised me to undergo preventive chemotherapy, and I am now in the early stages of this treatment. William and I have done everything in our power to manage this situation privately, in the best interests of our young family“.
 

Princess Kate explains that it has taken them some time to explain the situation to their children George, Charlotte and Louis. She concludes her message: “But for now, I need to focus on my full recovery. I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For anyone facing this disease in any form, don’t lose faith or hide. You are not alone.

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She underwent major abdominal surgery on January 16 at the London Clinic, where she was hospitalized for ten days. For weeks, rumors had been circulating about the princess’s state of health.
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Dragon Ball: a theme park inspired by Toriyama’s universe is coming soon!

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Dragon Ball: a theme park inspired by Toriyama’s universe is coming soon!, Magnate Daily
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Steph Deschamps / March 23,

 

The world’s first theme park inspired by the world of the famous Japanese manga and anime series Dragon Ball is to be built in a future leisure city in Saudi Arabia, the developer of this colossal project announced on Friday.
 
The planned opening date of this 500,000 m2 theme park was not specified, nor was its cost, as is usually the case for the Saudi kingdom’s tourism megaprojects.
 
Located in Qiddiya, near the capital Riyadh, the park will feature seven different zones from the Dragon Ball universe, around 30 attractions as well as hotels and restaurants, according to a press release from Qiddiya Investment Company, also issued by Japanese studio Toei Animation, producer of the franchise’s cartoons.
 
The death of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama on March 1 at the age of 68 provoked a worldwide wave of emotion, reflecting the immense popularity of his work.

 
First published in 1984, Dragon Ball is one of the best-selling mangas of all time, and has spawned countless animated series, films and video games. It recounts the adventures of Son Goku, a young martial arts prodigy in search of seven crystal balls to help him and his allies protect the Earth from evil enemies.
 
The new town of Qiddiya is one of the pharaonic projects in Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” program, designed to develop the country’s tourism industry and reduce its economy’s heavy dependence on hydrocarbons.
 
Qiddiya will eventually house several theme parks, sports facilities and cultural venues. Construction of the city began in 2019, but its completion date is not known.
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