Home Featured Italian court OKs Qatargate MEP’s extradition to Belgium
Italian court OKs Qatargate MEP’s extradition to Belgium

Italian court OKs Qatargate MEP’s extradition to Belgium

by host

Italian judges gave the go-ahead to MEP Andrea Cozzolino’s extradition to Belgium on Tuesday night.

Cozzolino is a key suspect in the European Parliament’s cash-for-influence scandal, known as Qatargate, but denies any wrongdoing.

His lawyer Federico Conte confirmed to POLITICO that over the next five days he will lodge an appeal to Italy’s high court, which has the power to overrule the decision by the judges in Naples.

Italy’s top tribunal could also ask the Court of Appeal in Naples to reconsider their decision, said Conte.

Cozzolino is currently under house arrest in Naples and will not be extradited to Belgium until the High Court gives its go-ahead.

The Belgian authorities accuse the European lawmaker of accepting bribes from foreign countries, including Morocco, in exchange for favoring their interests in the EU assembly, and are pushing to interrogate him in Brussels.

Judges in Naples put off a decision on whether to extradite Cozzolino five times, calling on their Belgian colleagues to send clarifications on the state of Belgian prisons and on why they issued a European arrest warrant against the MEP in February.

Belgian prosecutors finally sent the evidence to their Italian colleagues, who gave their go-ahead Tuesday night after discussing the case for around three hours behind closed doors. Cozzolino’s lawyer believes that these clarifications are not enough.

Judges in Naples also ruled that if Cozzolino is convicted he will serve the sentence in an Italian prison, his lawyer confirmed.

The MEP’s defense team argues that the move to a Belgian prison would endanger their client’s health, as he suffers from a heart condition.  

According to Italian media reports, Cozzolino told judges in Tuesday’s court hearing that he “is willing to provide clarifications … but I think I have a right to know concretely what I am accused of.”

Elena Giordano contributed reporting.

Source link