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The European Parliament asks to withdraw the immunity of two new implicated in the ‘Qatargate’

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, during a conference, shortly after the corruption scandal broke out. / JULIEN WARNAND/efe

The Belgian Justice claims the loss of jurisdiction so that they can be prosecuted in the case of the corruption plot detected in Brussels

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, announced on Monday the opening, at the request of the Belgian Justice, of an urgent procedure to withdraw the parliamentary immunity of two deputies involved in the ‘Qatargate’, the corruption scandal that has shaken Brussels and that has already led to the preventive detention of four people for the crimes of corruption, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization.

The European Parliament did not make public the names of the two defendants, but sources close to the investigation cited by Agence France Press assured that they are Italian Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian Marc Tarabella, both from the Social Democratic group.

Tarabella’s apartment was searched as soon as the scandal hit the media, on December 9, when the first arrests took place. He and Cozzolino are being investigated for their closeness to the former parliamentarian and founder of the NGO Fight Impunity Pier Antonio Panzeri, the alleged leader of the entire plot.

“Parliament will be on the side of the law. Corruption cannot benefit anyone and we will do everything possible to fight it,” he added, Metsola said in a statement. The process to withdraw the immunity of the two parliamentarians can take weeks. The first step will be taken next week, when the face-to-face sessions in the Eurochamber will resume. From there, the case will remain in the hands of the House Legal Affairs Committee. The president of Parliament “asked all the services and commissions to prioritize this procedure so that it concludes on February 13.”

€1.5 million

So far, the highest institutional position involved in the plot is the former vice president Eva Kaili, of the social democratic group. She is in pretrial detention, like Panzeri and two other people. It was not necessary to withdraw Kaili’s immunity to arrest her because bags with large amounts of cash were found in her house.

Investigators have so far seized 1.5 million euros in twenty searches, including several at the headquarters of the European Parliament. In addition to Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania are also suspected of having bribed prominent members of the European Parliament to whiten their image and achieve more favorable policies.

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