It was never going to stop at Eva Kaili and Antonio Panzeri. The Qatargate investigation is continuing and two more MEPs, the Belgian Marco Tarabelli and Italian Andrea Cozzolino, have had their immunity lifted. Greek and Italian prosecutors have sent demands for information to banks in Panama to confirm the authenticity of transfers rumored to be in the region of $60 million.
Now, more EU politicians are showing up on the radar of law enforcement. Over the weekend, news broke in the Spanish media that Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, MEP and former socialist justice minister in the Zapatero government, may be involved in Qatargate.
According to the reports, he had struck up a friendship with a prominent Qatari politician, Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, who is currently the minister for labor in Qatar and regularly visited the European Parliament. More importantly, he also participated in committees chaired by politicians from the European left.
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In the last year or so, Al Marri was involved in lobbying to remove visa requirements for Qatari citizens in several EU member states. It has been confirmed that he was in contact with Aguilar in official and unofficial meetings. The matter seemed close to being resolved until the scandal about socialist politicians taking bribes from Qatar shocked Europe. The visa liberalization decision has now been blocked.
Lopez Aguilar, however, has been a key figure in the campaign against the Polish government as a head of the European Parliament’s influential LIBE committee, which covers civil liberties and judicial affairs. It was his committee that initiated all the debates on Poland and formulated the most unfavorable resolutions against Poland.
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In this effort, he was aided and abetted by politicians from Poland’s opposition who often gave their input and suggestions.
It was Aguilar’s committee that produced the resolution citing the existence of “LGBT free zones” in Poland that in fact do not exist. Yet, the phrase appeared in many other resolutions and even official European Commission documents on rule-of-law compliance in Poland.
Aguilar was so aggressive in his attacks on Poland that during a public hearing held by the Polish opposition’s Radek Sikorski, an MEP and former foreign minister, Sikorski had to remind him that the proceedings were being recorded and that the tenor of his remarks could be construed as being anti-Polish.
It just so happens that all those who have been arrested or are suspected of being involved in Qatargate participated in the anti-Polish crusade in the European Parliament, often using false information. Since it was possible to buy favors and influence from the likes of Qatar and Morocco, it is not impossible that unfavorable actions against Poland were also purchased by a country from a different geographical location.