February 4, 2023

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Former MEP and NGO director detained

A Belgian judge on Tuesday ordered the detention of Italian Pier-Antonio Panzeri, an NGO leader and former Socialist MEP, after he was accused of corruption in a European Parliament investigation involving Qatar.

The two men were arrested on December 9 at the same time as Greek Socialist MEP Eva Kaili, the company’s vice-chairman, and her companion, Italian parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi. The four men have been charged with “membership of a criminal organisation”, “money laundering” and “corruption” in a scandal that has sent shock waves through the European Parliament and tensions between Qatar and the European Union.

Brussels Council Chamber on 14 December MM. Pancheri and Giorgi made the same decision about Ms Kylie last Thursday.

The Brussels Indictments Chamber examined Pier-Antonio Panzeri’s appeal against the decision on Tuesday. Finally, Mr. The federal prosecutor’s office pointed out that “at the request” of Panzeri, “the processing of the file has been postponed until January 17,” confirming the former MEP’s continued imprisonment.

In addition, the fourth defendant, Niccolò Figa-Talamanca, an Italian responsible for the NGO “No Peace Without Justice”, was released on December 14 on an electronic bracelet, but the process was suspended due to the federal prosecutor’s office. appealed.

On Tuesday, the indictment chamber decided to “replace electronic backup (…) with a simple extension of preventive detention”, according to the case – “a disappointment”, recognized by his lawyer Barbara Huylebroek.

For their part, Francesco Giorgi has not appealed against his continued detention, and Eva Kylie’s lawyers have indicated they have no intention of doing so.

In Belgium, the investigation led to twenty searches, including in the European Parliament, between 9 and 12 December. In total, Belgian investigators got their hands on 1.5 million euros in cash, a judicial source said.

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Established in Brussels in 2019, Mr. About 600,000 euros were seized from Panzeri’s home, following his mandate as an MEP for the NGO Fight Impunity. His wife and daughter, targeted by a European arrest warrant, were arrested in Italy, where they challenged their surrender to Belgium.

Eva Kylie, who was stripped of her European Parliament vice-president post in mid-December, continues to deny receiving money from Qatar to influence her political decisions, her lawyer, Mr. Giorgi accuses his wife of “betrayal of trust”.

According to a judicial source, bags filled with €150,000 worth of banknotes were found in Ms Kylie’s Brussels apartment, and her father was surprised with a suitcase containing €750,000 in cash.

A Belgian judge on Tuesday ordered the detention of Italian Pier-Antonio Panzeri, an NGO leader and former Socialist MEP, after he was accused of corruption in a European Parliament investigation involving Qatar.

The two men were arrested on December 9 at the same time as vice presidents.