Qatargate: MEP Tarabella to be released on house arrest

Qatargate: MEP Tarabella to be released on house arrest
Опубликовано: Tuesday, 11 April 2023 16:48

The Belgian Socialist denies wrongdoing.

BRUSSELS — Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella will be moved from jail to house arrest after being detained for over two months pending trial as part of a probe into an alleged cash-for-influence corruption scheme dubbed Qatargate.

“We’ve just learned with relief of the imminent liberation of Marc Tarabella,” a member of the Socialist MEP’s close circle wrote to POLITICO. A spokesperson for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office also confirmed Tarabella’s forthcoming release from a jail in Wallonia.

Tarabella’s lawyer Maxim Töller said the MEP will be kept under house arrest — wearing an electronic surveillance bracelet — and vowed to continue fighting to secure his client’s full release at a court hearing next month.

The European Parliament had voted to lift Tarabella’s immunity earlier this year to allow Belgian authorities to investigate, and the Socialists and Democrats group also suspended him as a member. Tarabella was then arrested on February 10 and charged with corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization in the probe, centered on allegations that foreign countries, including Qatar, worked to influence the European Parliament through cash payments and perks.

Former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who authorities believe to be the ringleader in the corruption scheme, told investigators that Tarabella had accepted €140,000 in bribes from him in exchange for influencing parliamentary work related to Qatar.

Panzeri, who has struck a plea deal with Belgian authorities and admitted guilt, was also released from detention last week under similar house-arrest conditions to Tarabella. But Tarabella’s lawyer Töller insisted his client has not admitted any guilt.

The member of Tarabella’s circle wrote: “Marc Tarabella has always proclaimed his innocence, he has also always said that there’s nothing to be done ashamed of and has never received money or gifts in exchange for his opinions.”

With Tarabella moving to house arrest, only one person charged in the Qatargate probe will remain detained in jail: former Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili. MEP Andrea Cozzolino is under house arrest in Italy fighting his extradition to Belgium.

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