The European Parliament has started the formal procedure to lift the immunity of two more MEPs suspected of wrongdoing in the institution’s corruption scandal.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola started the process in Strasbourg on Monday for socialist members Marc Tarabella from Belgium and Andrea Cozzolino from Italy.
“I have received requests from the competent authorities in Belgium for the parliamentary immunities of Mr. Andrea Cozzolino and Mr. Marc Tarabella to be waived. These requests have been referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs,” she told MEPs.
Cozzolino was, until Friday, chair of the parliament’s delegation working with the Maghreb region, which includes Morocco – one of the countries allegedly offering politicians cash to influence decision-making in the EU.
He was also on the committee investigating the use of Pegasus spyware by third countries, something that concerns Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont, Belgian MEP.
“There is an issue related to Morocco because Morocco is suspected to have used Pegasus software against the EU, against (French) President Macron, and also against the Prime Minister of Spain,” she told Euronews.
“And so knowing that some members might be suspected to have defended its particular interests and also the Moroccan interests, the question is there,” she added.
Tarabella was previously the vice-chair of the delegation responsible for Arab Peninsula relations, including with Qatar.
The two deny any involvement in the scandal, dubbed Qatargate.
It was also just revealed that Tarabella failed to declare a trip to Qatar in 2020, which the country paid for – a breach of European Parliament’s rules.
The institution’s legal affairs committee will now give the two MEPs a chance to make their case before the issue goes to a final vote in February by all lawmakers. It is almost certain to pass.
If the process is successful, the Belgian authorities will be able to question the two suspects and bring any charges against them.
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