Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

His son is in business with the son of an MEP implicated in the “Qatargate” affair. A potential conflict of interest forced the Belgian judge in charge of the investigation into the corruption of elected representatives in favor of Qatar and Morocco to withdraw on Monday June 19. Lawyers for several suspects believe this casts doubt on the credibility of the entire investigation.

A new twist in the Qatargate corruption affair involving three members of the European Parliament since December 2022, notably for votes on Qatar and Morocco. On the evening of Monday June 19, Judge Michel Claise, who has been in charge of the case for a year, decided to withdraw as a precautionary measure due to a possible conflict of interest.

Elements have recently come to light that could raise questions about the objective functioning of the investigation,” explained the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, referring also to the need to separate private and family life from professional responsibilities.

He has been replaced by an examining magistrate who has already been involved in the investigation.

The children of the judge and one of the suspects founded a company together
A precaution that should have come sooner: Judge Claise’s eldest son is a partner in a company marketing CBD (therapeutic cannabis) with the son of Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena, one of the protagonists in the case. The Belgian MEP’s son is still a shareholder in the company, which is run by the judge’s son.

A clear conflict of interest, especially as Marie Arena is one of the only elected representatives involved in this corruption affair not to have been charged, having neither been searched nor had her parliamentary immunity lifted. Unlike the Social Democrats, Greek Eva Kaïli, Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino.

However, she resigned on January 11 from the chairmanship of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee, whose meetings may have been the object of attempts by corrupt individuals to manipulate them.

Marie Arena’s role still unexplained
The police also found that she had 389 telephone contacts in the space of a year with the mastermind of the scheme, former Italian Socialist MP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, of whom she claims to be only a good friend. That’s almost as much as Francesco Giorgi, Panzeri’s former parliamentary assistant and the linchpin who helped MPs transport suitcases of tickets to buy their votes.

Although Marie Arena had been cleared in Panzeri’s guilty plea, she still had to explain why she had failed to declare a mission to Qatar in May 2022 paid for by the emirate, blaming it on the forgetfulness of her assistants and citing a rather complicated document to fill in.

The lawyers of the other MEPs involved in the affair have their work cut out for them, denouncing huge and obvious questions as to the impartiality of all the investigative acts that have been carried out so far. This affair within an affair does not, however, make us forget all the cash seized – over a million euros – by Belgian police during their raids in December 2022.

By admin