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E.U. Assembly Lifts Immunity of 2 Lawmakers Linked to Scandal

European Parliament's President Roberta Metsola chairs the vote for vice-president of parliament, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 in Strasbourg, eastern France. AP
European Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola chairs the vote for vice-president of parliament, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 in Strasbourg, eastern France. AP

The European Union’s parliament on Thursday removed the protective immunity of two lawmakers linked to one of the bloc’s biggest-ever corruption scandals, paving the way for them to be questioned by Belgian investigators.

In a show of hands, the assembly voted overwhelmingly to lift the parliamentary immunity of Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino. Both men previously said, through their lawyers, that they are willing to cooperate with the Belgian authorities.

Live television images showed that Tarabella voted in favor of having his own immunity lifted.

The two have denied any links to the scandal, in which Qatari and Moroccan officials are suspected of offering bribes to influence decisions at the European Parliament. Qatar and Morocco have also vehemently denied involvement, but the assembly has suspended work on all Qatar-related files.

According to the report prepared to allow Taraballa’s immunity to be lifted, a Belgian investigation shows that he “may have been involved in acts of corruption connected with interference by one or more foreign states aimed at influencing the debates and decisions taken in the European Parliament.”

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