What if Qatargate was falling apart? As La Libre revealed on August 30, the main parties affected by the so-called Qatargate affair – relating to alleged acts of corruption within the European Parliament – met at the Brussels court on September 19. Precisely in front of the accusation room, the lawyers were summoned for a hearing in which they tried to control the regularity of the investigation procedure.
Sven Mary and Christophe Marchand, the lawyers of Greek MEP Eva Kaili, are behind this request for control. They consider that their client’s parliamentary immunity was violated from the beginning of the investigation. They also point to the repentant status granted to the alleged mastermind of the case, Antonio Panzeri. Their request is simple: that the prosecution chamber declare, purely and simply, the inadmissibility of the prosecution.
No legal decision would be made after the hearing. The objective of the latter was to listen to each of the interested parties and then set a schedule for the exchange of arguments. According to the noises heard in the corridors of the Brussels court, Eva Kaili’s two lawyers could be successful in her request.
But you will have to be patient. The next hearing will not take place before… May 2024. This is a “bridge date”, which should make it possible to say when the arguments will take place, probably at the next judicial start.
”They said we had to do things as quickly as possible. But there the case is a little paralyzed,” Eva Kaili’s lawyers limited themselves to commenting.
The defense of MEP Marc Tarabella, also immersed in this matter, prefers, for its part, to discuss the rest of the procedure. “We are in favor of the request aimed at controlling the regularity of the instruction, to guarantee full compliance with the law. We also request an in-depth verification of the regularity of each element of this file. Furthermore, it is obvious that the issue of the repentance procedure must be addressed. This procedure, in our opinion, was clearly applied without respecting the law, which raised a legal problem and prevented Mr. Tarabella from defending himself on equal terms. It is time to shed light on what was promised to this surprising repentant.”
We also know that the Federal Prosecutor’s Office requested the scope of the referral to control the regularity of the procedure. In this way, all investigative acts carried out (and those not carried out) by the investigating judge Michel Claise will be controlled. As a reminder, Judge Claise himself withdrew from the case in June. Maxim Toller, Marc Tarabella’s lawyer, suspected that he had conflicts of interest since his son and Marie Arena’s son (whose name also appears in the file) are partners in a company.
Should Michel Claise worry? “If I were him, I’d be a little worried, yes,” a source responds. He always said that every legal action he took was justified and therefore he was covered. Obviously, this is no longer the case. Today it’s a little like the federal prosecutor’s office is trying to turn against him, to get rid of this whole mess.”
But according to another interlocutor, Judge Claise has nothing to fear since he has not done anything criminally reprehensible. “The fact that certain roads have been deliberately abandoned is nothing illegal. But this is mainly what he is criticized for. After all, an investigative judge is sovereign. I think he is above the fight, you have to believe it.”
Next and end?
Many thought that this mega investigation was little by little reaching its conclusion, but that is not the case. In any case, not before at least May 2024. “We have the impression that no one wants to worry about this issue before the elections, neither at the federal nor European level. And when will these elections take place? Mid-2024,” they whisper to us.
Meanwhile, the requested procedural review should, in principle, prevent new investigative tasks.
What if the legal proceedings over Qatargate were deflating, sending this 25-case file back into the closet? For some, the September 19 hearing is akin to a “first-class funeral.” For others, it is more nuanced. “The accused will have peace for a while. But nothing prevents the investigation from continuing with respect to people who, until now, were not concerned, since the investigation will now focus on everything that has not been investigated,” we observe.