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European Parliament corruption scandal: Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella set to be released from prison

Marc Tarabella, leaves the headquarters of the Socialist Party after a vigilance committee following the allegations related to the Qatar corruption case in Brussels, Belgium.
Marc Tarabella, leaves the headquarters of the Socialist Party after a vigilance committee following the allegations related to the Qatar corruption case in Brussels, Belgium. Copyright VALERIA MONGELLI/AFP
Copyright VALERIA MONGELLI/AFP
By Euronews
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Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella will be released under electronic surveillance in the coming days, his lawyer said.

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Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella is the latest suspect in the corruption scandal that has rocked the European Parliament who is set to be released from prison, his lawyer confirmed to Euronews.

Tarabella, formerly with the Socialist group, will be able to return home under electronic surveillance, the lawyer added.

Tarabella was arrested in February and charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption, and money laundering related to a case of suspected bribery.

These were the same charges faced by Greek MEP Eva Kaili, her domestic partner Francesco Giorgi, former MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri and NGO director Niccolò Figà-Talamanca.

The Belgian investigation has centred on an alleged cash-for-favours scheme that involved "large sums" of money and "substantial" gifts paid to influence EU decision-making, according to authorities.

Tarabella "has always claimed to be innocent," his lawyer told Euronews, adding that the MEP "never received money or gifts in exchange for his opinions".

His release in the coming days has not yet been announced by Belgian authorities but was confirmed by two lawyers to Euronews.

Last week, Pier Antonio Panzeri, another suspect widely believed to be the mastermind behind the scandal related to suspected bribery, was released from prison after nearly four months behind bars.

Kaili, a former vice president of the European Parliament, meanwhile, remains in prison.

Tarabella was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and was part of the parliament's delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, which covers Qatar.

In November of last year, he delivered a short speech defending Qatar's labour reforms in the context of the FIFA World Cup and later voted in favour of a visa waiver for Qatari and Kuwaiti citizens.

While Tarabella's house was searched early on in the investigation, he was only detained after MEPs voted to lift his immunity in early February.

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