Italian MEP to be extradited to Belgium in EU influence-peddling scandal

Italian MEP to be extradited to Belgium in EU influence-peddling scandal

DMAG Joint Parliamentary Committee — Exchange of views on EU relations with Libya

An Italian court has agreed to the extradition of an MEP to Belgium in the ongoing investigation into the influence-peddling, corruption scandal at the European Parliament (EP).
The cash-for-influence allegations imply that Qatar and Morocco bribed politicians, parliamentary assistants and NGOs in an effort to sway the EU assembly’s decision making.
MEP Andrea Cozzolino, a 60-year-old member of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party, has been under house arrest in Naples since 10 February, detained on a European arrest warrant issued by Belgium.
Yesterday, a Naples court ruled that the extradition could go ahead and that the Italian MEP, who insists he is innocent, can be sent to Belgium to face charges. According to his lawyer, Cozzolino plans to appeal the extradition decision to Italy’s Supreme Court.
The Belgian arrest order accuses Cozzolino along with former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, Eva Kaili, the former Vice-President of the EU Parliament, plus others, of having received illicit payments from Morocco. Panzeri is reported to be cooperating with the probe in exchange for a reduced sentence, having been arrested in Brussels in December. Like Cozzolino, Kaili has denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Morocco has protested about “judicial harassment” and Qatar has insisted it has no involvement in the corruption scandal.

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