Belgium releases four EU scandal suspects.


Qatar repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the simmering scandal.

Authorities in Belgium have released four suspects, including a former Italian non-governmental organisation boss that were accused of bribery in the European Parliament scandal, AFP reported on Monday citing prosecutors.

The list of individuals released include Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, Italian who previously led “No Peace Without Justice” up until his dismissal when the scandal erupted in December last year.

According to media reports, the Italian national was among others who were on pre-trial detention and was released on Friday.

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“At this stage, the evidence in the case no longer justifies his detention,” a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The spokesman also refused to comment on whether the testimony of another NGO chief and former Italian member of European Parliament Pier Antonio Panzeri led to his release.

Last month, Panzeri had agreed to provide evidence about bribery allegations.

The scandal, which has since rocked the European Union, emerged when Belgian authorities raided the houses of several MEP’s and confiscated what reports said was millions of euros in cash from their residences.

Prosecutors allege the money was being used to help influence the European Parliament’s decisions over Qatar and Morocco. However, the Gulf state has dismissed those claims, saying it refuses to have its name dragged into the scandal.

Some of the names that have surfaced as part of the probe include Panzeri and former Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who remains behind bars despite asserting her innocence. Kaili’s Italian partner Francesco Giorgi was also accused of being involved in the scandal.

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According to media reports, Giorgi “partly” confessed to the crime.

The latest development also follows the parliament’s move to lift the immunity of Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella and Italian legislator Andrea Cozzolino.

Tarabella and Cozzolino also deny any wrongdoing in the case as investigations continue to take place.

Last year, popular Italian news site, Dagospia, reported the likelihood of a “little hand” in the scandal permeating the relationship between Qatar and the EU, pointing towards the United Arab Emirates.

source: dohanews