The European Parliament announced on Monday that it began the procedure to lift the immunity of two MEPs, at the request of the Belgian courts, which represents a new chapter in the scandal caused by the corruption plot that supposedly involves Qatar.
(In context: What the ‘Catargate’ exposed on how the ‘lobby’ works in the European Union)
Parliament did not release the names of the lawmakers, but sources close to the investigation told the AFP that it is the Italian representative Andrea Cozzolino and the Belgian Marc Tarabella.
(Keep reading: ‘Catargate’: Who’s who in the European Parliament corruption scheme?)
Both are in the crosshairs of the investigation that led Belgian officials to arrest one of the institution’s vice-presidents, the Greek Socialist MEP, on December 9 eva kaili.
His partner, the Italian Francesco Giorgi, who is also Cozzolino’s parliamentary assistant, the former Italian Socialist MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, and an NGO leader, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, were also among those arrested.
The four have been accused of “membership of a criminal organization”, “money laundering” and “corruption” in a scandal that has shocked the European Parliament and sparked tensions between Qatar and the EU.
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Kaili did not enjoy parliamentary immunity because the crime was discovered red-handed, with “bags of cash” found at her home.
On December 13, she was stripped of her title of vice-president after a near-unanimous vote by MEPs.
The investigation of this plot, known as “Qatargate”, led to twenty raids between December 9 and 12, even carried out within the European Parliament.
Marc Tarabella’s home was also inspected on December 10, a judicial source said.
In all, the Belgian investigators seized 1.5 million euros in cash, according to a judicial source, at the homes of Panzeri and Kaili, as well as in a suitcase carried by their father.
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“In response to a request from the Belgian judicial authorities, I promoted an urgent process to lift the immunity of two members of Parliament. There is no immunity, absolutely none,” said the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, in a message on Monday. On twitter.
“Parliament will be on the side of the law. Corruption cannot benefit anyone and we will do everything possible to fight it,” he added.
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Metsola will personally communicate this request to the MEPs during the next plenary session, which It will begin on January 16 in Strasbourg (France), where the other seat of the European Parliament is located.
Then, the parliamentary committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) will examine the petition behind closed doors to lift his immunity. It will organize, if necessary, interrogations with the affected representatives and will propose a final decision that the MEPs must vote on.
The president of Parliament “asked all the services and commissions to prioritize this procedure so that it concludes on February 13,” the statement said.
The European socialist group (S&D) had already decided on December 12 to suspend Cozzolino from the position of coordinator of this group in the European Parliament, while Tarabella suspended his membership of the S&D on his own account, a spokesman for this group told AFP. .
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Both MEPs were also suspended from membership by their respective national parties, the Belgian Socialist Party and the Italian Democratic Party.
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