Top lawmaker dismissed following EU assembly lobbying scandal

BRUSSELS: Belgian police carried out several raids in an investigation into alleged influence in the EU assembly by a Gulf state, leading to the suspension of a vice-president of the EU Parliament by his party group on Friday.

In response to the ongoing investigation, the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, which is centre-left, announced that it had "decided to suspend MEP Eva Kelly's membership of the S&D group with immediate effect."

The Greek socialist party, Pasok-Movement for Change, suspended Kaili, a 44-year-old former news anchor for Greek television. According to Pasok, its actions were "in response to recent developments and investigations by the Belgian authorities into the corruption of European officials".

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Pasok and S&D declined to provide further details.

Kelly was suspended after police carried out 16 raids in the Belgian capital Brussels on Friday, according to the federal prosecutor's office. The country in question was not named by the prosecution.

The left-wing group in the EU parliament demanded in a statement that the "exposed Qatar lobbying scandal" be added to the agenda of the assembly next week to gather more information about the matter and consider an appropriate response by lawmakers .

Pasok made it clear that he disagreed with Kelly's remarks to the EU parliament last month, in which he praised Qatar and insisted that the World Cup there "is proof, really, of how sports diplomacy is a country's best." can achieve historic change. The reform that inspired the Arab world."

Investigators seized computer equipment, mobile phones and about 600,000 euros ($633,500) in cash during raids in Brussels, according to Belgian prosecutors, in addition to detaining four people for questioning.

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Prosecutors did not name all four, but one was described as a former EU MP.

According to the statement, assistants to EU MPs were particularly targeted in the raids. 705 elected representatives from the 27 member states of the European Union make up the assembly. Each MLA has several assistants.

The unnamed Gulf nation may be attempting to "influence economic and political decisions of the European Parliament," according to prosecutors, the Belgian federal judicial police.

This was accomplished, it claimed, "by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with an important political and/or strategic position within the European Parliament."

While an investigation was underway, the EU Parliament's press service declined to comment on the raids, but said the assembly was cooperating fully with the Belgian police.

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Kelli has been a member of the Assembly of the European Union since 2014 and was elected in January as one of the 14 Vice-Presidents of the Assembly.

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