European parliament launching procedure to waiver immunity of two MEPS following Qatar scandal

Two members of European Parliament have had their immunity waivered for accepting bribes from Qatar

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on screen as EU Parliament awards Sakharov prize to the Ukrainian people at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France December 14, 2022. (photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on screen as EU Parliament awards Sakharov prize to the Ukrainian people at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France December 14, 2022.
(photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

The European Parliament said on Monday it had begun a procedure to waive the immunity of two of its members after a request from the 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.

Response

Tarabella's lawyer Maxim Toller said his client was in favor of being stripped of his immunity. Earlier, Tarabella denied wrongdoing, saying in a statement he had "absolutely nothing to hide" and would "respond to all questions of the investigators."

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on screen as EU Parliament awards Sakharov prize to the Ukrainian people at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France December 14, 2022. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on screen as EU Parliament awards Sakharov prize to the Ukrainian people at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France December 14, 2022. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

Cozzolino did not respond to Reuters' efforts to contact him for comment. Last month, he told Italian news agencies he was not under investigation at that time. "I have not been questioned. I have not been searched, nor has my office been sealed," he said then.

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.

According to the sources, Giorgi, an EU parliamentary assistant, said he suspected Tarabella and Cozzolino had received money from Qatar. Kaili has denied wrongdoing.

Reuters could not determine if Giorgi had provided any evidence for his allegations against Tarabella and Cozzolino.

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.