MEPs lose EU immunity in Qatar-Morocco bribery probe


Two MEPs who are currently being investigated by Belgian authorities for the Qatargate bribery scandal to hit the EU will not have their immunity waved, according to reports on Monday 2nd of January.

The European Parliament said on it had begun a procedure to waive the immunity of two of its members after a request from Belgian judiciary investigating a European Union-Qatar corruption scandal.

Two sources close to the investigation told Reuters the two MEPs were Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino.

“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,” parliament president Roberta Metsola said on Twitter.

“There will be no impunity. None,” she said.

Both men have insisted they are guilty of no wrong doing and are cooperating with Belgian police.

In December, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Francesco Giorgi, one of the main suspects in the investigation along with his partner, ousted European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili, confessed to taking bribes from Qatar to influence European Parliament decisions on Qatar.

Ana Gomes MEP claims that she was blocked for almost 15 years by Antonio Panzeri MEP for wanting to take a harder line on Morocco’s human rights violations and the validity of Rabat’s claim to sovereignty of the annexed region of Western Sahara. Read the full article here


However, despite it being dubbed ‘Qatargate’, in fact, the bribery stems from a 15 year old network of corrupt MEPs which were originally identified and paid by Morocco for white-washing its own human rights record – raising new questions over how Morocco will be treated with regards to its internal problems and its claim to Western Sahara.

On December 22, a Belgian judge ruled that Kaili would remain in custody for another month as the investigation continues into the corruption case involving World Cup host Qatar, one of the biggest graft corruption scandals to hit the EU.

Kaili, who is Greek, is also accused of accepting bribes from Qatar. She has previously stated through her lawyer that she is innocent. Central to the whole affair is an ex Italian MEP who has also been arrested and is suspected of taking bribes from Morocco, Qatar going back at least 15 years, according to a former colleague.

The scandal came to public attention after police launched more than 20 raids, mostly in Belgium but also in Italy. Hundreds of thousands of euros were found at a home and in a suitcase at a hotel in Brussels. Mobile phones and computer equipment and data were seized.


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