At the opening of the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday 12 December in a serious atmosphere, the Belgian police continued their searches in the Brussels buildings of the institution in order to access the data from the computers of a dozen employees of Italian MEPs. to confiscate. Social Democratic (S&D) group.
Since December 9, the Community Legislative Assembly has been living to the rhythm of “Qatargate”, with some of its members suspected of defending Qatar’s interests in exchange for hard cash. That day, the Belgian police sealed three offices, that of the institution’s vice president, Eva Kaili, and that of elected officials Marc Tarabella and Marie Arena, claiming they were the offices of their assistant.
In total, investigating judge Michel Claise carried out about twenty operations in which six people were arrested, four of whom were detained. Eva Kaili, her partner, parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi, ex-MP Pier Antonio Panzeri and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, leader of the NGO No Peace Without Justice, will appear before a Brussels court on December 14 to rule on their continuation in prison .
Large sums of cash were seized during an investigation that began in the summer of 2022. About 600,000 euros were discovered in the Brussels house of Mr. Panzeri, 150,000 euros in Eva Kaili, where many gifts were also found with the inscription “Qatar”. The Greek MP’s father hid €600,000 in a briefcase when police arrested him at his hotel in the European quarter.
There was consternation in Strasbourg on Monday. “European democracy under attack”threw Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, after discussion “his anger, his anger, his sorrow”. “There will be no impunity (…), nothing is swept under the rug (…). There will be no “business as usual”. [« les affaires continuent »] (…). We are going to shake up this Parliament’ continued the Maltese of the European People’s Party (EPP, conservative), which has placed the fight against corruption at the heart of its political identity.
To deal with the emergency, she proposed to MEPs to revoke Eva Kaili’s title of vice president and postpone Tuesday’s vote on the visa waiver for Qataris wanting to come to Europe. Elected officials must also vote on a resolution on Thursday “Qatar’s suspicions of corruption and the wider need for transparency and accountability within the European institutions”.
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