Arena was not summoned by the Belgian judiciary because of this case, but his name was constantly mentioned by the media because of his contacts with the head of the supposed corruption scheme, former Italian member of parliament and founder of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Fight Against Impunity, Pier Antonio Panziri, who previously chaired the same sub-committee of the European Parliament.
The Belgian authorities did not ask to lift my parliamentary immunity. Neither my office nor my home was searched, and I was not implicated in any way by justice,” Maria Arena reiterated today in her defense, in a statement.
Unlike his party colleague, also Belgian Socialist MP Marc Tarabella, who is under investigation, Arena is not the subject of any request to suspend parliamentary immunity, a measure that the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, has already announced she will do. Put in March next week, in plenary session in Strasbourg.
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament appears at the heart of the bribes paid by some countries such as Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania for their alleged interference in the decisions of that body, according to information from the judicial investigation that was transmitted in the meantime to the press.
In the so-called “Qatargate” investigation conducted by the Belgian authorities, four people have so far been indicted on charges of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization, and three of them are closely related to that subcommittee.
These included, in addition to Pier Antonio Panzieri, his advisor Francesco Giorgi, who was now also working with one of the present members of the subcommittee; and Giorgi’s girlfriend, Eva Kayli, a Social Democratic MEP who was ousted as Vice-President of the European Parliament after the scandal was revealed.
A fourth person arrested on the same initial charges is also linked to this group of MEPs: Niccolò Vega Talamanca, Secretary General of the Sim Paz NGO, Now Ha Justica.
Qatargate resulted from an investigation by the Belgian justice into alleged offers from Qatar and Morocco to members of the European Parliament and assistants to European Parliament groups to influence decisions in Brussels, in a process that resulted in the seizure of bags of money totaling 1.5 million euros. in euros.
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