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European Parliament corruption suspect Francesco Giorgi to remain in Belgian jail

Francesco Giorgi with former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Francesco Giorgi with former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri at the European Parliament in Brussels. Copyright Jean-Francois Badias/AP
Copyright Jean-Francois Badias/AP
By Efi Koutsokosta
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Giorgi's lawyer said that a deal struck earlier this month between former MEP Antonio Panzeri and the authorities to reveal all elements of the criminal organisation won't change his client's position.

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One of the key figures in the European Parliament corruption scandal will remain in jail for one more month, Belgium's federal prosecutor announced on Thursday.

Francesco Giorgi, a former parliamentary assistant and domestic partner of accused Greek MEP Eva Kaili, was arrested in mid-December as part of a probe into a cash-for-favour scheme involving a Persian gulf state, widely believed to be Qatar. Morocco is also suspected of having tried to yield influence over the EU law-making process.

Giorgi's lawyer said that a deal struck earlier this month between former MEP Antonio Panzeri and the authorities to reveal all elements of the criminal organisation won't change his client's position.

Panzeri is alleged to be the main man in the cash for influence scandal.

At the same time, supposedly as part of this deal, Panzeri's daughter and wife were released in Italy after Belgium dropped an extradition request.

Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont told Euronews that confidence in the Parliament must be restored as soon as possible.

"The cases [of corruption] were so completely out of the scope of imagination that cash money has been distributed - it's like a bad film that we take part in and that we are not taking part in because most of the people working here were not involved in this.

“Those things have to be known and have to be punished severely because all the confidence that people could have in that institution has to be reinstalled.”

Two more MEPs allegedly involved, Marc Tarabella and Andrea Cozzolino, could have their parliamentary immunity removed soon, with a final vote by MEPs expected either next week or later in February.

Cozzolino appeared before MEPs this week denying all accusations.

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