The Belgian Justice now has a free hand to investigate the two socialist MEPs involved, along with former vice president Eva Kaili, in Qatargate, the bribery scheme sponsored by the emirate and originating in Morocco in exchange for influencing positions in the European Parliament. The European Parliament has withdrawn the immunity of Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino.
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The report prepared and approved unanimously in the legal affairs committee (JURI) at the request of the MEP Manon Aubry (La Izquierda) indicates that both Tarabella and Cozzolino are “involved in acts of corruption derived from the interference of one or more countries foreign [en referencia a Qatar y Marruecos] with the aim of influencing the debates and decisions adopted in the European Parliament”.
“It is suspected that Andrea Cozzolino has participated, since 2019, in cooperation with other people, in protecting the interests of third countries in the European Parliament, on preventing the adoption of resolutions that could harm the interests of those states in exchange for sums of money ”, indicates the resolution on the Italian MEP, who accepted his right to appear before his colleagues on the Juri Commission to claim his innocence.
In the case of Tarabella, the suspicion is even more concrete according to the judicial investigations. “He is suspected of having supported certain positions in the European Parliament during the last two years in favor of a third country in exchange for cash payments” which amounts to an amount between 120,000 and 140,000 euros according to the “testimony against him” that the leader of the plot, Pier Antonio Panzeri, former MEP and now lobbyist through the NGO Fight the Impunity, which has thrown in the blanket in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The procedure to lift the immunity of the two MEPs indicated by the Belgian Justice so that it can investigate them has been express in this case since the president of the institution, Roberta Metsola, received the request from the Belgian authorities. The corrupt plot knocked out parliamentarians to some extent, especially the Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), which is where those involved belonged, and the Chamber as such, which has long been struggling to improve its reputation. Qatargate has been quite a blow.
That is why the promises to act with determination against cases of corruption and to reinforce the detection and control systems within the Eurochamber to avoid them multiplied. For now, few of the proposed measures have been implemented beyond preventing the Qatari authorities from accessing the institution while the judicial investigation lasts. Recently, the plenary extended that decision to the representatives of Morocco, who exerted strong pressure on parliamentarians before the approval of a resolution critical of the human rights situation in that country. It was approved by a large majority but with the vote against the PSOE and without the participation of the representatives of the Spanish PP.