A real judicial earthquake shook the foundations of society’s institutions, undermined the aura of their incorruptibility. The Belgian judiciary is investigating a criminal organization that allegedly penetrated the heart of the European Parliament: the suspicion is that it influenced EU policy in favor of Qatar. Agents of the Central Office for the Suppression of Corruption in Brussels yesterday arrested four Italians, including former deputy of the Socialists and Democrats group Antonio Panzieri and Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation Luca Visentini. They will have to be heard by investigators led by examining magistrate Michel Cleese, who specializes in financial affairs. One of the collaborators of the current chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Mary Arena and the Belgian Marc Tarabella, both of whom are socialists, will also participate in the investigation, as the police will close the offices.
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According to the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir”, 16 inspections were carried out in different municipalities in Belgium; Especially in Ixelles, Schaerbeek, Crainhem and Forest. It was alleged that the agents found around €600,000 in cash at Panzieri’s residence in Brussels. An investigation into this alleged criminal organization dedicated to corruption and money laundering began in July. The hypothesis of the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office was that Qatar transferred money to some of the suspects. For Qatar, it will be about defending the “World Cup” and the emirate’s alleged progress in the field of human rights or in the working conditions of immigrants.
In addition to Panziri and Vicentini, Niccolò Vega Talamanca, of the NGO No Peace Without Justice, and Francesco Giorgi, a former assistant at S&D MEP and companion of Eva Kaili, one of the 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament, are being held. Yesterday, Belgian investigators also searched the home of the Greek socialist, who was immediately expelled from her PASOK party. The politician was also questioned by judges in the context of alleged corruption incidents by Qatar. At the last plenary session in Strasbourg, on November 21, I spoke in favor of Doha. “The World Cup in Qatar is indeed a testament to how sports diplomacy can bring about a historic transformation of a country through reforms that have inspired the Arab world.” Also yesterday, on the basis of a European arrest warrant, the wife and daughter of Antonio Panzieri were transferred to Bergamo prison. The former MEP of the Socialists and Democrats still has a home in Calusco Dada, a town in the Bergamo region from which he is originally from: his wife Maria Colleoni (67) and daughter Silvia (38) are allegedly traced there.
Meanwhile, the judiciary earthquake shook politics. The S&D Group issued a memorandum pledging “zero tolerance for corruption” and announcing the “suspension of work on any public files and votes pertaining to the Gulf states”. From Rome, the League attacks the Democratic Party—a member party of the European Socialists—and orders the Democrats to “explain to the Italians immediately whether certain elected and allied officials have received money from foreign countries.” Hence the request for an “urgent meeting” for Kobasir and a speech by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani in Parliament.
– Le Soir (lesoir) December 9, 2022
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