One of the biggest corruption scandals of the public era is still giving people something to talk about. This Thursday the European Parliament withdrew the immunity granted by the body to Marc Tarabella and Andrea Cozzolino, which gives the green light to quickly investigate the alleged role of the two legislators in ‘Qatargate’.
The action against the deputies was approved by a large majority, even Tarabella himself raised his hand, as a sign that he has nothing to hide from the investigations. Both parliamentarians have defended their innocence.
Both Cozzolino and Tarabella confirmed their intention to cooperate with the Belgian authorities who are in charge of the process.
What are they accused of?
A report states that Marc Tarabella may be involved in acts of corruption related to “interfering with one or more foreign states, with the aim of influencing debates and decisions made by the Legislative entity”.
According to the document, “the testimonies against him indicate that payments were made to him on several occasions” for a total of between 120,000 and 140,000 euros.
Regarding the documentation against Andrea Cozzolino he emphasizes that he is suspected, from 2019, of participating in the agreement “cooperation in the protection of the interests of foreign States in the Parliament” of the old department. This was done, allegedly, “by preventing the adoption of parliamentary resolutions” that could harm the interests of the nations involved in the scandal.
Both legislators belong to the second largest political house of the community legislative body, the centre-left social-democratic party, the one most influenced by ‘Qatargate’.
Those involved in ‘Qatargate’
Prosecutors in the case believe that a group of members of Parliament and aides “received large sums of money and offered significant gifts to influence the decisions of parliament.” Two countries are marked: Qatar and Morocco.
A lot is already at stake. Among them is the former vice-president of the organization, the Greek Eva Kaili. It was not necessary to withdraw her immunity, since she was found in flagrante delicto. His partner is also in custody.
Another one of those mentioned is Pier Antonio Panzeri. It is considered the head of the plot. In mid-January last, he agreed to cooperate with the authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, Secretary General of the non-governmental organization ‘No Peace Without Justice’ was also arrested.
Months after the start of the investigations, around 20 operations were carried out in Belgium and Italy. Hundreds of thousands of euros are being counted, household appliances such as mobile phones, computers, etc. also confiscated.
The Belgian Minister of Justice praised the actions of the State Security agencies, which have worked for years to achieve what he called a “game changer”.
According to the AP news agency, citing the newspapers ‘La Reppublica’, from Italy, and ‘Le Soir’, from Belgium, the two outlets published what they considered to be transcripts of statements by Francesco Giorgi, assistant to the Parliament, in which he allegedly admits that he handled money for an “organization” led by Pier Antonio Panzeri that had ties to Morocco and Qatar.
With EFE and AP