The two elected officials continue to deny any wrongdoing. The European Parliament on Thursday lifted the immunity of two MEPs targeted by Belgian justice in the alleged corruption scandal for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco, paving the way for their hearing by investigators. Voting by a show of hands, MEPs gathered in Brussels gave the green light to lifting the immunity of Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino.
The two elected members are temporarily excluded from the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group. MEP Marc Tarabella, present in the hemicycle, voted for the lifting of his own immunity. “It is to justice that I will deliver information on the questions that (the investigators) will want to ask me. I want justice to do its job,” said the Belgian MEP on leaving.
From now on, “everything will be possible, (…) this does not necessarily mean that there will be coercive measures, but justice is giving itself all the means to be able to work as for any litigant”, explained Éric Van Duyse , spokesperson for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office.
A search at the home of Marc Tarabella
According to the parliamentary report on the lifting of the immunity of Marc Tarabella, written by the French MEP Manon Aubry (LFI), “it would emerge (…) from the current investigation that (the latter), during the last two years, is suspected of having supported certain positions within the European Parliament in favor of a third State in exchange for cash rewards”.
The report mentions the testimony against him of the Italian Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former socialist MEP who claimed in December to have paid “between 120,000 and 140,000 euros”, in several installments to Marc Tarabella for his help in the files related in Qatar.
Pier Antonio Panzeri, charged and placed in pre-trial detention like three other suspects, concluded an agreement with the justice system in January, undertaking to provide information on the system of corruption in which he admits to having participated, in exchange for a sentence of imprisonment limited to one year. Marc Tarabella’s home in the Liège region was searched in December, but no cash was found.