Qatargate: European Parliament lifts Tarabella's parliamentary immunity
The European Parliament on Thursday lifted the parliamentary immunity of Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino. This happened at the request of the Belgian court, which wants to investigate further the role of the two MEPs in the Qatar corruption scandal.
After the unanimous approval in the Legal Affairs Committee last week, the plenary of the European Parliament on Thursday also voted by a show of hands to lift the parliamentary immunity of the two MPs. The entire procedure was completed in just a few weeks, whereas it usually takes several months.
Tarabella himself voted to lift his immunity, too. In a reaction, he recalled on Thursday that he had insisted on lifting his immunity "since the first days" after the affair erupted so that he could "answer the investigators' questions and help the court shed light on this case".
"Out of respect for the judicial authorities and the investigative work, I did not comment on allegations in the press. That was very tempting, all the more so because I am innocent", Tarabella insisted.
Panzeri accused Tarabella of taking bribes, stating that the Belgian had been "repeatedly rewarded for an estimated total amount of 120,000 to 140,000 euros."
The request to lift the immunity of Tarabella and Cozzolino came from the Belgian court. It is part of the investigation into possible corruption in the European Parliament. Third countries allegedly tried to influence decision-making by offering people in strategic positions in parliament large sums of money or significant gifts. Qatar and Morocco are mentioned.
A series of searches were carried out in that investigation in December. In the process, investigators seized a total of 1.5 million euros. Six people were arrested and four of them, including former vice-president Eva Kaili and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, have been placed under arrest. Panzeri, meanwhile, has agreed to cooperate with the authorities. Media reports in recent weeks reported that Panzeri accused Tarabella of taking bribes, stating that the Belgian had been "repeatedly rewarded for an estimated total amount of 120,000 to 140,000 euros."
© PHOTO Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP