Greek government party suspends MEP as Brussels corruption scandal spreads

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s center-right ruling New Democracy party has suspended one of its members of the European Parliament from the party, pending the outcome of an investigation by European authorities into the payment of an assistant.

New Democracy said in a statement Friday that the suspension was ordered by party leader and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He said that while the suspension is in place, Maria Spyraki will not be a parliamentary candidate for the party in the next general election, which is due to be held in the first half of next year.

On Thursday, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office requested the lifting of the immunity of Spyraki, as well as of one of the former vice-presidents of the European Parliament, the Greek Eva Kaili.

“Based on an investigation report received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), there is a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, with regard to the management of the parliamentary allowance, and in particular regarding the remuneration of accredited parliamentary assistants,” the prosecution said in a statement.

Kaili, from the Greek socialist party PASOK, is one of four people charged in Belgium with corruption, involvement in a criminal group and money laundering in a corruption scandal in which Qatar is suspected of having tried to buy political influence with money and gifts. She was arrested and is in police custody awaiting a hearing on December 22 in Brussels.

His partner Francesco Giorgi, who is a parliamentary adviser, was also arrested and charged. European lawmakers ended Kaili’s term this week.

The investigation against Spyraki is unrelated to the Qatar scandal.

In a statement to Greek media on Thursday, Spyraki said she was “happy to accept” the request to waive her immunity “to make it clear that I don’t have a single euro difference with the European Parliament.”

She said the problem concerned the allowance of a former colleague who had encountered serious personal problems and had been absent from certain meetings of the European Parliament.

“I have nothing to do with Qatargate, I have nothing to do with any other matter,” she said.

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