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European socialists show Belgian lawmaker the door

The socialist group in the European Parliament expect Belgium’s Marc Tarabella (Francophone socialist) and Italy’s Andrea Cozzolino, who are both named in the corruption scandal that erupted last month, to leave the socialist group. Meanwhile Mr Tarabella insists he is innocent and has no plans to leave the PES group.

On Monday the European Parliament initiated the procedure to lift the parliamentary immunity of the two lawmakers.  They have both been named in a Belgian judicial investigation into corruption at the parliament.  A plenary vote is expected at the start of February. 

Socialist floor leader Garcia Perez says the group will act if the two MEPs fail to respond. Mr Tarabella’s lawyer, Maxim Töller, insists the presumption of innocence may not be jettisoned under pressure from a series of articles in the press and malevolent accusations from people who are being held in custody.

Earlier daily Le Soir reported that the two chief suspects, Pier Antonio Panzeri and Francesco Giorgi, who are both in custody, had identified Mr Tarabella as somebody who may have received gifts from the Qataris.

Qatar and Morocco stand accused of attempting to influence political and economic decisions of the parliament by providing gifts and cash. Former Euro MP Pier Antonio Panzeri is no longer opposing his remand in custody.  The former Greek deputy president of the parliament, Eva Kaili, her partner Francesco Giorgi and the Italian lobbyist Nicolo Figa-Talamanca are still in custody.

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