Italy court docket OKs handover in EU Parliament corruption case


BRESCIA, Italy — An Italian court docket dominated Monday {that a} suspect in a significant corruption scandal linked to the European Union’s parliament could possibly be handed over to Belgium, the place prosecutors are investigating a plan to hawk affect on behalf of Qatar and Morocco.

The court docket within the northern metropolis of Brescia determined that Maria Dolores Colleoni could possibly be taken to Belgium based mostly on a European arrest warrant linking her to the scandal via her husband, former EU lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri.

The court docket in Brescia specified that any sentence can be served in Italy. It additionally mentioned in its choice that an allowance for home arrest might finally be made additionally in Belgium.

Prosecutor Giovanni Benelli made the choice public, with out offering particulars, however Colleoni will not be more likely to head to Belgium quickly. Her protection legal professionals have mentioned they’re contemplating an enchantment to Italy’s highest court docket.

Panzeri and three different folks have been charged Dec. 9 with corruption, participation in a prison group and cash laundering. Belgian prosecutors are investigating in the event that they “were paid large sums of money or offered substantial gifts to influence parliament’s decisions.”

The allegations that money and items have been exchanged for political affect are on the coronary heart of one of many greatest scandals to hit the European Parliament. Lawmakers final week suspended work on Qatar-related recordsdata and vowed to toughen lobbying legal guidelines. Qatar vehemently denies its involvement.

Colleoni’s lawyer, Angelo de Riso, informed reporters that she is “worried” concerning the case. Her protection staff additionally expressed concern that she could be positioned underneath home arrest whereas in Belgium awaiting trial.

Colleoni’s legal professionals have 5 days to enchantment the choice. Italy’s excessive court docket would then have 10 days to rule on whether or not she needs to be handed over. “My client is worried. If a person finds herself in this situation it is obviously worrying,” de Riso mentioned.

Based on two European arrest warrants issued by Belgian decide Michel Claise and seen Monday by The Related Press, Panzeri is “suspected of intervening politically with members working at the European Parliament for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco, against payment.”

Colleoni, and their daughter, Silvia Panzeri, are suspected of being “fully aware” of his actions and serving to to move “gifts” from Morocco’s ambassador to Poland, Abderrahim Atmoun.

Prosecutors mentioned wire faucets uncovered the proof of potential crimes. They have been looking for Colleoni and her daughter’s switch to Belgium. The 2 ladies face 5 years in jail if discovered responsible of participation in a prison group, corruption and cash laundering, in keeping with the warrants.

Together with Panzeri, who leads the Combat Impunity marketing campaign group, the 4 folks already charged embody a former EU parliament vp and her Italian associate.

Their daughter’s case was scheduled to be heard individually on Tuesday. Each ladies have been held underneath home arrest close to Brescia, although Colleoni was in court docket on Monday. Panzeri himself is detained in Belgium.

On Friday, a Milan judicial supply confirmed to AP that 17,000 euros ($18,075) have been seized throughout a search of the couple’s dwelling, the place Colleoni is underneath home arrest, in Calusco d’Adda within the Bergamo province northeast of Milan. Police additionally seized computer systems, cellphones, watches and paperwork.

The supply spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to remark publicly.

In statements to the court docket Monday, Colleoni denied the allegations introduced within the arrest warrant, specifically that she benefited from items from Qatari and Moroccan representatives, de Riso mentioned. The difficulty of the 17,000 euros discovered within the couple’s home didn’t come up, he mentioned

Earlier than the listening to, de Riso mentioned that handing Colleoni over to Belgian authorities would violate her human rights as a result of an Italian court docket has already conceded home arrest and a switch to Belgium would land her in jail pending costs and trial.

The previous European Parliament vp, Eva Kaili, stays in custody in Belgium awaiting a listening to on Thursday. Her time period in workplace was terminated by EU lawmakers final week. Her associate, Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary advisor, can also be in jail.

Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, secretary-general of the non-governmental group No Peace With out Justice, was additionally charged. He has been launched from jail however stays underneath surveillance and should put on an digital monitoring bracelet.

Corrects to say that Italy’s excessive court docket would have 10 days to resolve on an enchantment.

Cook dinner reported from Brussels.

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