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Alleged leader of “Qatargate” agrees to collaborate in exchange for reduced sentence

Former Italian Social Democrat MEP Pier Antonio Panzericonsidered the ringleader of the alleged corruption plot in the European Parliament related to Qatar, Morocco Y Mauritarianagreed on Tuesday to collaborate in the Belgian judicial investigation as “repentant” in exchange for reducing his sentence.

Under the memorandum signed today, it is anticipated that “a limited sentence” for Panzeri, which includes “imprisonment, a fine and the confiscation of all acquired assets, currently estimated at one million euros”, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office reported in a statement on Tuesday.

LOOK HERE: The explanation of the detained MEP about the bags with 150,000 euros found in her house

The limited penalty will consist in particular of one year in prison -of a five-year sentence-, a fine of 80,000 euros and the confiscation of his assets worth one million euros, according to what Panzeri’s lawyer has specified, Laurent Kennesreported the French-speaking radio and television RTBF.

It is the second time in Belgian legal history, since the introduction of the so-called ‘pentiti’ law (repentance, in reference to the Italian law that allowed the Mafia to be investigated), that these procedures lead to the signing of a memorandum”, specified the Prosecutor’s Office, which for the moment will not provide more details “for research interest”.

It’s about a “important fact”, stressed the Prosecutor’s Office, when reporting on the signing of the “commitment by which a remorse applicant makes a substantial and revealing contribution, truthful and complete statements about the participation of third parties and, where appropriate, their own participation in the crimes within said file must make”.

Panzieri was accused last December 10 of “participate in a criminal organization as a leader, money laundering and active and passive corruption”.

Based on the memorandum that Panzeri has signed with the Belgian Justice, it specifically commits to “inform investigators about the “modus operandi” of the plot, financial agreements with other countries involved, financial structures created, stakeholders of the structures created and benefits, the involvement of known and unknown persons in the investigation, including the identity of the person(s) you admit to having bribed”.

Panzeri’s lawyer said, on the other hand, that his client has completely exonerated Belgian Socialist MEP Maria Arena, the Belgian agency reported.

Arena announced last week his decision to step down as chairman of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee, a post he had temporarily left a month ago when the bribery scandal broke.

Panzeri, 67 years old and a European deputy between 2004 and 2019, was arrested on December 9 by Belgian law enforcement, who confiscated 600,000 euros in cash.

MORE INFORMATION: Belgian police search European Parliament headquarters over Qatargate corruption scandal

The Belgian justice ordered in a first hearing held on December 14 that Panzeri remain in jail while the investigation is being carried out, a decision that the Italian was preparing to appeal this Tuesday although in the end he resigned to do so.

The Lombardy politician’s decision not to go to court today came after a court in Brescia, in northern Italy, agreed to hand over Belgium to Silvia Panzerihis daughter, for his alleged collaboration with the politician in the bribery network.

This decision can be appealed, as already happened with the decision on the mother of Silvia Panzeri and wife of the politician, Maria Colleoniwhose surrender was approved in December but was paralyzed after his lawyers alleged alleged overcrowding problems in Belgian prisons and has a new hearing scheduled for January 31.

In parallel, the European Parliament chooses this Wednesday between the Luxembourg socialist Mark Angelthe French of the Greens Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield and the Italian Annalisa Tardino to occupy the position of vice president of the European Parliament that was withdrawn from the Greek social democrat Eva Kailiwhose father was caught leaving a Brussels hotel with suitcases full of cash.

The Belgian justice system arrested Kailí on December 9 despite enjoying parliamentary immunity, considering that he was committing a flagrant crime, and he is also in preventive detention in Belgium for his alleged involvement in the corrupt network that Morocco, Qatar allegedly used and Mauritania to promote their interests in the European Parliament.

In addition to Panzeri and Kailí, the Belgian police then arrested the sentimental couple of the Greek politician and parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgio and the “lobbyist” and general secretary of the NGO No Peace Without Justice (Without peace there is no justice), Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, all of them currently in prison, in an operation in which the agents seized a total of more than 1.5 million euros, telephones and computer equipment.

ALSO SEE: Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili admits her involvement in a corruption scheme

Kailí will appear in principle before the Brussels Court of Appeal this Thursday and Giorgi on the 26th.

On the other hand, the European Parliament has started the process to lift the parliamentary immunity of the Italian Social Democrats Andrea Cozzolino and to the Belgian Marc Taraballadecisions that will be debated in the coming weeks and that will foreseeably be voted on in full in February.

Both MEPs are part of Panzeri’s entourage and Cozzolino, in particular, has hired Giorgi as an assistant.

Source: Elcomercio

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