Qatargate: Investigating judge Michel Claise stays in the saddle

Investigating magistrate Michel Claise will not be removed from the corruption probe in the European Parliament dubbed Qatargate, the lawyer for Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella reports. The Court of Appeal ruled that Tarabella's request to challenge the investigating judge was unfounded.

MEP Marc Tarabella had filed a challenge against investigating magistrate Claise, who in turn refused to recuse himself from the investigation. The Court of Appeal has now ruled that Tarabella's challenge was admissible but unfounded.

The Belgian MEP was arrested in the corruption investigation after being questioned by the investigating magistrate. According to Tarabella's lawyer, Claise disregarded the presumption of innocence in the arrest warrant.

"We remain convinced that questions could be raised about the impartiality of the investigating judge and that there was a real risk of the presumption of innocence being violated," Tarabella's lawyer, Maxim Töller, said on Tuesday. "If these proceedings have led to an impartial investigation being conducted now, they will not have been in vain."

The fact that Claise did not recuse himself comes as no surprise to those familiar with his track record. The investigating magistrate has a reputation for sinking his teeth into high-profile white-collar cases and not letting go. He is known among his colleagues as "The Sheriff" for his relentless approach, Politico reported in December 2022.



Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella © BELGA PHOTO

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