Eva Kaili, the Greek MEP who has become the most recognizable face of the corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament, was released from prison on Friday, where she has spent the last four months in pre-trial detention.
The controversial lawmaker was then placed under house arrest in her Brussels apartment, wearing an electronic bracelet.
You must always be available to the authorities and undergo regular hearings to review your parole, which was unexpectedly granted on Wednesday.
“Thank you. My daughter is waiting for me. So I’m very happy to be with her soon. So thank you. We’ll talk soon,” Kaili told reporters who were waiting outside her apartment.
Then, speaking in Greek, Kaili vowed to continue the legal battle with the “steadfastness” of her defense team.
Kaili was joined by car by her Greek lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, and her father Alexandros.
The Greek MEP was arrested for the first time on 9 December, when she was reportedly caught in the act and her parliamentary immunity was immediately waived.
The 44-year-old lawmaker was later charged with participation in a criminal organization, bribery and money laundering, charges which still stand.
His arrest shocked Brussels and brought to light an investigation into a cash-for-favors scheme involving “large” sums of money and “substantial” gifts allegedly paid for by Qatar and Morocco to influence European decision-making.
Both countries deny any wrongdoing.
More than €1.5 million in cash was seized by Belgian police during dozens of house and office searches.
In the aftermath of the scandal, Kaili it has been removed from his post as Vice-President of the European Parliament and his party membership was suspended, a dramatic turn for a lawmaker who had hitherto been considered a rising star in the hemicycle and in the media personality.
The 44-year-old remains an unattached MEP and is entitled to an after-tax monthly salary of €7,146 and half of her monthly allowance of €4,778.
Kaili was one of five people arrested and charged criminally by the Belgian authorities, along with her live-in partner Francesco Giorgi, former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella.
The four men had previously been granted release from prison, making Kaili the latest defendant to be granted a conditional release.
Kaili will not spend her house arrest at the same residence as Francesco Giorgi, with whom she has a two-year-old daughter, her defense team confirmed.
Giorgi worked as a parliamentary assistant, first for Pier Antonio Panzeri, the alleged ringleader behind the corruption scheme, and then for Andrea Cozzolino, an Italian MEP campaigning against extradition from Italy to Belgium.
Panzeri signed a plea deal in January with authorities under which he admits his criminal participation in corruption and pledges to share “revealing” details about the money-for-favors scheme.