Belgian investigators and examining magistrate Michel Claise struggled over the weekend to advance the “Qatargate” file or, according to the more official terminology of the federal prosecutor’s office, the attempt to “suspected criminal organization” to influence the policies of the European Union (EU) for the benefit of“a Gulf State”.
Six people were arrested in Brussels on Friday, December 9. Four of them were imprisoned on Sunday. The judicial authorities have not given their names, but they are Eva Kaili, elected Greek socialist, vice-president of the European Parliament, Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary assistant who is her companion, Pier-Antonio Panzeri, former Italian social-democrat MEP and president of the Brussels NGO Fight Impunity, and, finally, according to the Italian press agency Ansa, of Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, leader of the NGO No Peace Without Justice, based in the same address than Fight Impunity.
Luca Visentini, Italian General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), was indicted but conditionally released. A sixth person – a parliamentary assistant from the European People’s Party (EPP, conservative) – was released. M’s fatherme Kaili, apprehended in a Brussels hotel with a bag of cash, was quickly released. “He only played the conveyor”says a source.
Hundreds of thousands of euros were reportedly seized by investigators at Mme Kaili and at Mr. Panzeri, including various interlocutors of the World confirm that he was ” in the heart “ of the system of corruption put in place. Italian police questioned his wife and daughter over the weekend.
The first elements of the investigation indicated that the offices of several assistants, including those of the Belgian elected officials Marie Arena, a close friend of Mr. Panzeri, and Marc Tarabella had been searched. In reality, the offices of these two elected officials and that of a third deputy would also have been placed under seal.
“How far will this case go? »
The police searched, on Saturday, the home of Mr. Tarabella in Anthisnes, in the province of Liège. The investigators took away the mobile phone and the computer of the elected, MEP since 2009. “I have nothing to hide, I will answer all questions, that goes without saying”, he commented. The “vigilance commission” of the Belgian Socialist Party, supposed to ensure the integrity of the representatives, will hear it soon.
Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, attended, as required by Belgian law, the police operation carried out on Saturday. Returning hastily from Malta, she did not hide her concern. The elected conservative, who has placed the fight against corruption at the heart of her political identity, quickly decided to suspend Eva Kaili from her missions: the Greek socialist was notably responsible for representing her in the Middle East.
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