The European Parliament Thursday stripped two additional European lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution. Belgian authorities may now question the lawmakers in their investigation into a cash-for-influence bribery scandal linked to Qatar and Morocco.
Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella and Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino join four other suspects who authorities have tied to accusations that Qatar and Morocco sought to bribe European Parliament members in order to influence EU decision making. Both men deny the accusations against them. Tarabella stated: “I’m happy my parliamentary immunity has been lifted. I remind you that I’m innocent in this affair.”
Millions of euros have already been recovered by investigators, and former lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri recently struck a plea deal in which he acknowledged “having participated in acts of corruption” and “being the leader or one of the leaders of the criminal organization.”
The bribery scandal, which also implicated former Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, has led to anti-corruption reforms in Europe. In a recent statement, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola reaffirmed that “citizens rightly demand accountability and integrity” and promised immediate action to restore citizens’ faith in the European Parliament.