two social democrat MEPs targeted by an immunity waiver procedure – RT in French
Two MEPs are targeted by a procedure for the waiver of parliamentary immunity in the context of an investigation into corruption within the institution involving Qatar. They are the Italian Andrea Cozzolino and the Belgian Marc Tarabella.
The European Parliament announced on January 2 that it had launched an emergency procedure, following a request from the Belgian judicial authorities, to lift the immunity of two MEPs in the context of an investigation into corruption within the institution involving the Qatar.
The two elected officials concerned are the Italian Andrea Cozzolino and the Belgian Marc Tarabella, both belonging to the S&D group (Social Democrats), reports AFP, citing sources familiar with the matter. The two men are targeted as part of the investigation which led Belgian investigators to arrest the vice-president of the institution, the Greek socialist MEP Eva Kaili, on December 9.
Heavy legal charges
The latter’s companion, the Italian Francesco Giorgi, who is also Andrea Cozzolino’s parliamentary assistant, the former Italian socialist MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, as well as an NGO official, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca , were also among those arrested.
These four personalities have been charged with “belonging to a criminal organization”, “money laundering” and “corruption”, in a scandal which caused shock waves in the European Parliament and tensions between Qatar and the EU.
Eva Kaili did not benefit from her parliamentary immunity, because the offense had been found in flagrante delicto, “bags of tickets” being discovered in her apartment. She was stripped of her title of Vice-President of the European Parliament on December 13 by an almost unanimous vote of MEPs.
In Belgium, the investigation gave rise to 20 searches between December 9 and 12, including within the European Parliament. The home of Marc Tarabella had been searched on December 10 in this context, according to a judicial source.
In total, the Belgian investigators got their hands on 1.5 million euros in cash, according to a judicial source, seized from the homes of Pier-Antonio Panzeri and Eva Kaili, as well as in a suitcase transported by the her father.
Following a request from the Belgian judicial authorities, I have launched an urgent procedure for the waiver of immunity of two Members of the European Parliament.
There will be no impunity. None.
— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) January 2, 2023
“Responding to a request from the Belgian judicial authorities, I launched an urgent procedure to lift the immunity of two members of Parliament. There will be no impunity, absolutely none,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Twitter on January 2.
“Officials will find this Parliament on the side of the law. Corruption cannot pay and we will do everything to fight it,” she also said.
Roberta Metsola will formally communicate this request to MEPs during their next plenary session, on 16 January in Strasbourg. The Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) will then have to examine it, behind closed doors, and pronounce a proposal for a decision, which will ultimately be voted on by all MEPs in plenary.
The President of Parliament “has asked all the services and committees to give priority to this procedure, with a view to its conclusion on February 13”, specifies the press release. As of December 13, the Belgian Socialist Party had decided to suspend Marc Tarabella from his membership. And on December 16, the Italian Democratic Party announced that it would suspend “as a preventive measure” Andrea Cozzolino from the register of its members, “until the closure of the ongoing investigations into the “Qatargate” scandal”, in order to “protect the ‘party image’.