EU assembly lifts immunity of 2 lawmakers linked to scandal

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union parliament on Thursday lifted the protective immunity of two lawmakers linked to one of the bloc’s biggest corruption scandals, paving the way for their questioning by Belgian investigators.

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

Live television images showed that Tarabella had voted to have his own immunity waived.

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

According to the report drawn up to waive Taraballa’s immunity, a Belgian investigation shows that he “may have been involved in acts of corruption linked to the interference of one or more foreign states aimed at corrupting the debates and decisions of the European Parliament influence. ”

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