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Belgium Detains Another MEP in Connection With Qatargate Scandal

MEP Marc Tarabella
MEP Marc Tarabella has been detained in connection with the Qatargate scandal. Credit: Euranet Plus, / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Another MEP (Member of the European Parliament) has been detained as authorities in Belgium continue to investigate individuals connected to the Qatatgate scandal.

The MEP in question has been identified as Marc Tarabella, a Belgian politician and member of the left-wing Socialist Party. He was taken into police custody on Friday morning, just a week after his political immunity was waived.

The European Parliament has been embroiled in the Qatargate scandal since December last year when prominent EU officials were accused of accepting bribes and coming under the influence of Qatar and Morrocco.

MEP Marc Tarabella detained

The police arrested Marc Tarabella between 6:00 and 8:00 AM CET on Friday morning, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office told the media.

Tarabella will now face a hearing before a judge within the next 48 hours who will decide whether to release or charge him in connection. The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has not revealed the possible charges.

MEPs enjoy parliamentary immunity which ensures that they cannot be subject to any form of inquiry, detention, or legal proceedings in connection with their work as legislators. However, Tarabella’s colleagues voted last Thursday to strip him of his parliamentary immunity.

Tarabella denies involvement in Qatargate

Tarabella himself voted to have his immunity waived but maintained his innocence, arguing that he had no involvement in the Qatargate corruption scandal.

“I have been asking for the lifting of this immunity since the very first days of this affair in order to be able to answer the questions of the investigators and to help the justice system to shed light on this case,” Tarabella told members of the press after the vote.

“Of course, I deny any wrong,” he added. When asked if he had ever accepted bribes to influence proceedings in the European Parliament he answered: “Never in my life!”

The investigation so far

Since the Qatargate scandal rocked the European Parliament last year, four people have been officially charged, Greek MEP Eva Kaili and her partner Francesco Giorgi, former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, and NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca.

All four were charged with participation in a criminal organization, corruption, and money laundering. Three of the four – Kaili, Giorgi, and Panzeri – remain in prison, whereas Figà-Talamanca was released earlier in February without conditions.

The investigation, led by Belgian authorities, is examining alleged bribery and illegal lobbying efforts to influence decision-making within the European Parliament carried out by Qatar and Morrocco. Both countries have vigorously denied the allegations.

According to prosecutors, European officials were offered “large sums” of money and “substantial” as part of illicit lobbying efforts by Qatar and Morocco. More than €1.5 million was seized by the police in dozens of raids in December.

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