The European Parliament lifts the immunity of two MEPs for the 'Qatargate' | International

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The plenary session of the European Parliament has lifted this Thursday the immunity of the socialist MEPs Marc Tarabella and Andrea Cozzolino, whom the Belgian justice wants to question for their alleged involvement in the Qatargate, the scandal of bribery of personalities from the European legislative institution to influence decisions on countries such as Qatar and Morocco that has deeply shaken Brussels. The MEPs quickly approved, in a vote by show of hands, the withdrawal of the immunity of the two parliamentarians, who have always defended their innocence and had declared themselves in favor of being investigated to prove it. In fact, Tarabella attended today's vote, carried out just after the plenary session opened in Brussels. When it was his turn, the Belgian, who had taken a serious seat on his seat and barely nodded to some colleagues, also voted to have his immunity lifted.

The appeal procedure (immunity waived at the request of a national court) has been especially fast, a sign of the European Parliament's willingness to show that it is acting in the face of a scandal that has seriously affected its reputation. Just a month ago, at the request of the Belgian justice, the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, formally requested to start the process urgently and set the maximum deadline for its completion on February 13, the day on which the plenary session of the Chamber begins. in Strasbourg.

The lifting of immunity has been resolved almost two weeks before. In fact, the Legal Affairs committee responsible for preparing the report on the two MEPs sped up the times and appointments and this week presented its formal proposal, in which it is unanimous in favor of withdrawing parliamentary immunity from the two affected.

The plenary vote in Brussels this Thursday was the final step necessary to formalize the lifting of immunity, of which Metsola will now immediately inform the Belgian authorities, according to parliamentary sources. From that moment on, the Belgian courts will be able to question and, if they deem it necessary, arrest Tarabella and Cozzolino.

Both have repeatedly denied their involvement in the Qatargate, although only the Italian took the opportunity to explain himself last week to his colleagues at the commission hearings that analyzed their cases. Tarabella has always declared that he was willing to answer to justice for the accusations that other of those involved have launched against him, especially the former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri.

According to leaks to the press, Panzeri, who has signed a collaboration agreement with Belgian justice, would have stated that he paid Tarabella more than 120,000 euros in cash. The Belgian has always defended his innocence. However, he is considered the most notable active politician and even at liberty by the Qatargate. In fact, the police searched his home on December 10, one day after the raid that sparked the case. and that led to the arrest of Panzeri, of the former vice-president of the European Parliament Eva Kaili —still an MEP, like Tarabella and Cozzolino—, of her partner and parliamentary assistant, Francesco Giorgi, and of the Italian Niccola Figa-Talamanca, former leader of a NGO allegedly involved in the bribery scheme.

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The four are still in preventive detention, accused of corruption, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization. Belgian justice has rejected his demands for supervised release on several occasions since his arrest. Given that Tarabella still enjoyed parliamentary immunity, Metsola, as president of the European Parliament and in accordance with the provisions of Belgian law, had to return urgently to Brussels from her native Malta to be present at the search of the Belgian MEP's home on December 10. The investigators did not find cash, as they had done in the records of the others involved, in which they found 1.5 million euros.

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