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MEP corruption scandal: Parliament moves to lift two lawmaker’s immunity

The European Parliament moved to lift the immunity of two MEPs on Monday, amid a major corruption scandal that has sent shockwaves through Brussels. 

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola launched an urgent procedure to waive the legal protections of two lawmakers, following a request from Belgian judicial authorities. 

The scandal began in December, with the arrest of Greek MEP Eva Kaili. She is accused of accepting large sums of money to peddle influence for Qatar and Morocco at the European Parliament. 

Other EU lawmakers are implicated in the alleged corruption and an investigation is ongoing in Brussels. 

“From the very first moment the European Parliament has done everything in its power to assist in investigations and we will continue to make sure that there will be no impunity,” Metsola said. 

“Those responsible will find this Parliament on the side of the law. Corruption cannot pay and we will do everything to fight it.”

On Monday, the European Parliament said Metsola had asked all services and committees to make the process of lifting immunity a priority, aiming to have it finished by 13 February. 

Like in most parliaments around the world, every MEP is given parliamentary immunity. It prevents them from being sued, arrested or investigated.

The EU Parliament press service did not identify the two MEPs. 

Reuters reports that they are Italian Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian Marc Tarabella, according to those familiar with the case. 

The pair did not immediately respond to comment requests from the news agency. 

Tarabella and Cozzolino have both denied wrongdoing and suspended their own membership of the Socialists and Democrats group (S&D) in the parliament. 

Tarabella’s home was raided in December. 

Cozzolino previously said he was ready to abandon his parliamentary immunity so that he could answer questions from the authorities.

“When it comes to the request to lift their immunity the S&D group would follow, in the context of the European Parliament, the procedures foreseen in a responsible and constructive manner,” the Socialists and Democrats said.

Eva Kaili has already been charged in connection to the scandal, spending Christmas behind bars. 

The illicit scheme allegedly involves Qatari and Moroccan officials influencing economic and political decisions with gifts and money.

Kaili was suspended as Vice-President of the EU Parliament after being charged. 

She would have normally enjoyed immunity from prosecution but was caught red-handed, with Belgian police reportedly finding large bags of cash at her home. 

Being caught in a criminal act is one of the conditions for suspending parliamentary immunity under EU rules.

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