Key figure in Brussels corruption scandal explains himself
The Italian Pier Antonio Panzeri, a key figure in the Brussels corruption scandal who sealed a plea bargain, now presents himself as a mere intermediary in the case.
The corruption scandal in Brussels is ballooning, with newer and newer details emerging and the suspects constantly sending messages to each other through their lawyers and the media.
The authorities are also progressing with the investigation. As is known, one of the main suspects, former Socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, has made a plea bargain with the Belgian authorities to provide detailed information on the corruption network in exchange for a lighter sentence for himself, his family members and associates. Panzeri’s close associate Niccolo Figa-Talamanca was released from prison this week, and Panzeri’s wife and daughter were also released from house arrest.
However, in his testimonies, Mr Panzeri is trying to deflect all responsibility on Eva Kaili, another key figure in the corruption scandal. The former Socialist vice-president of the European Parliament has been in prison since early December. She has responded to Panzeri’s accusations through her attorney.
“Antonio Panzeri spoke out after his plea deal with the Belgian judiciary and I am sure that he is falsely accusing Ms Kaili,” Dimitrakopoulos told Italian daily La Stampa. “It’s a Belgian legal paradox that criminals who confess and repent are pardoned, while those who fight for their innocence are sent to prison and the presumption of their innocence gets undermined,” the attorney pointed out.
Meanwhile, Mr Panzeri is trying to explain his role in the scandal through his attorney.
The lawyer is now portraying Mr Panzeri as
having been merely an intermediary between Qatar and those with influence and votes in the European Parliament. In other words, they want to give the impression that the people who actually received the bribes were those in positions of power, that is, MEPs and other officials.
“In corruption, there is someone who gives money, in this case from Qatar or Morocco, to get someone to do something,” the attorney said, noting that “the crucial element here was the position of power and influence over decisions, which a former MEP like Mr Panzeri could not possess.”
“Mr Panzeri alone would not have given or received money. If you get money from someone and give it to someone else, you are not a mafia boss,” Panzeri’s attorney concluded.