European Parliament lifts immunity of two MEPs over Qatargate corruption scandal

The European Parliament votes to lift immunity of two MEPs, paving way for Belgian prosecutors to widen Qatargate corruption probe

European Parliament votes to lift immunity of Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella
European Parliament votes to lift immunity of Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella

The European Parliament voted on Thursday to lift the immunity of two MEPs wanted by Belgian prosecutors in connection with the Qatargate corruption scandal.

Italian Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian Marc Tarabella allegedly took money from countries, including Qatar and Morocco, to try and influence the EP’s work.

Both MEPs have strongly denied any wrongdoing. They were already excluded from their Socialists & Democrats group.

Cozzolino, who was the chair of the parliament’s delegation with Maghreb countries, including Morocco, is accused of accepting money to block resolutions damaging the interests of non-EU countries. Tarabella is suspected of taking up to €140,000 in bribes to adopt certain positions at the European Parliament.

EP President Roberta Metsola will now communicate the decision to Belgian prosecutors.

The Qatargate scandal erupted in December when Belgian police arrested former EP vice president Eva Kaili, her partner and former MEP Giorgio Panzeri and charged them with accepting bribes and money laundering.

The allegations originally centred around illegal influence-buying by World Cup host Qatar, hence the moniker Qatargate. However, investigations later widened to also implicate Morocco in attempts to buy influence.

Both countries have denied the accusations.