The European Parliament has launched the formal procedure to lift the immunity of two other MEPs suspected of wrongdoing in the institution’s corruption scandal.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola started the trial for socialist members Marc Tarabella from Belgium and Andrea Cozzolino from Italy in Strasbourg on Monday.
“I have received requests from the competent authorities in Belgium for the waiver of the parliamentary immunities of Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella. These requests have been referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs,” he told MEPs.
Cozzolino was, until Friday, chairman of the parliament delegation working with the Maghreb region, which includes Morocco, one of the countries reportedly offering money to politicians to influence decision-making in the EU.
He was also on the committee investigating the use of Pegasus spyware by third countries, which concerns Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont, Belgian MEP.
“There is a problem with Morocco because Morocco is suspected of using Pegasus software against the EU, against (French) President Macron and also against the Spanish Prime Minister,” he told RockedBuzz via Euronews.
“And so knowing that some members might be suspected of defending his particular interests and also Moroccan interests, the question is there,” he added.
Tarabella was previously Vice-President of the Delegation responsible for relations with the Arabian Peninsula, including Qatar.
The two deny any involvement in the scandal, dubbed Qatargate.
It has also just been revealed that Tarabella failed to declare a 2020 trip to Qatar, which the country paid for, a breach of European Parliament rules.
The institution’s legal affairs committee will now give the two MEPs a chance to make their position known before the matter moves to a final vote in February by all lawmakers. It is almost certain that it will pass.
If the trial is successful, the Belgian authorities will be able to question the two suspects and bring any charges against them.