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Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella charged in Qatargate probe

Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella charged in Qatargate probe

by host

Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella on Saturday was charged with corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization in the probe connected to alleged corruption in the European Parliament. The Belgian prosecutor’s spokesperson confirmed the charges to POLITICO.

His lawyer Maxim Töller told POLITICO that the Belgian MEP was transferred to the prison of St. Gilles in Brussels and that he would be heard on Thursday in a pre-trial hearing, which the Belgian prosecutor’s spokesperson also confirmed.

The charges come after Belgian authorities on Friday arrested Tarabella, who was heard on Saturday morning by the investigating judge.

Several raids took place on Friday: A safe deposit box of Tarabella’s at a bank in Liège was searched by Belgian police, as well as multiple offices in the Walloon town of Anthisnes, where Tarabella is still mayor.

Three other suspects — former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, her partner Francesco Giorgi and MEP Antonio Panzeri — are still in jail.

In January, Panzeri struck a deal to cooperate with the investigators. According to earlier confessions, Panzeri said Tarabella was paid up to €140,000 in bribes.

Töller said that “no raids have enabled [authorities] to confirm Panzeri’s accusations,” and that the investigators are using “expired” facts, based on Panzeri’s early-December confessions.

The European Parliament waived immunity for both Tarabella and fellow MEP Andrea Cozzolino in a plenary session last week, paving the way for Belgian investigators to interrogate them.

In the same investigation, another Socialist MEP, the Italian Andrea Cozzolino, was reportedly arrested in Italy on Friday evening.

Both Tarabella and Cozzolino deny any wrongdoing.

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