Qatargate: Lawyer of Belgian MEP wants to challenge investigating judge

The defence of Marc Tarabella, the Belgian MEP arrested last weekend on suspicion of involvement in the European Parliament corruption case, asked investigating judge Michel Claise on Thursday to withdraw. Claise is violating the presumption of innocence in his arrest warrant, Tarabella's lawyer said in a press release.

Maxim Töller, Tarabella's lawyer, cites the arrest warrant issued against his client: "The suspect's public functions were initially detrimental to Qatar but were adjusted once suspicious movements of money were discovered."

According to Töller, Claise clearly states his views on his client's guilt. "He seems to regard the allegations he is leading an investigation into as proven," Töller claims. Furthermore, he points out that the file has not revealed any "suspicious movements of money" by his client and that no financial analysis has yet occurred.

The investigating judge "must guarantee absolute impartiality and balance the scales between all parties, with the sole aim of uncovering the truth". That is not the case in this matter, Töller said. "There are strong suspicions of bias on the part of the investigating judge, which make him unfit to carry out his mission," he concludes.

Tarabella came under scrutiny in the European Parliament corruption investigation dubbed Qatargate. As a result, his parliamentary immunity was lifted on 2 February, and he was detained for questioning last Friday.

The former member of the Belgian socialist party PS was arrested on Saturday by the investigating judge on suspicion of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation. Tarabella will appear before the Brussels chambers on Thursday, which will decide on his further arrest.




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