Three other detainees remain in custody in the European Parliament graft investigation.
A Belgian judge has allowed the release of one of the four detainees in the European Parliament corruption probe, known as Qatargate, a prosecution spokesperson told POLITICO.
Niccolò Figà-Talamanca — secretary-general of No Peace Without Justice, one of the nongovernmental organizations linked to the corruption scandal that has engulfed the European Parliament — was set free. It’s not clear whether conditions have been attached to the release, with the spokesperson unable to comment on that.
Figà-Talamanca had initially been granted release with an electronic monitor. But after the Belgian prosecutor appealed the order, the Belgian chamber of indictment reversed the earlier order at the end of December, keeping Figà-Talamanca in jail.
Why a judge has now ordered his release is unclear. By the time of publication, Figà-Talamanca’s lawyer had not responded to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for No Peace Without Justice said they were “very happy” for Figà-Talamanca, “who finally tonight will be back with his family after this period of privation of his personal freedom. We also note that the decision to free him without conditions has been taken by the same investigating judge, in whom we have had confidence since the start, who ordered his arrest. Now, we hope that the next step will be for the charges to be archived and Niccolo’s full rehabilitation.”
At present, only former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, and her partner Francesco Giorgi are still in jail. In January, Panzeri struck a plea deal with the Belgian authorities in exchange for naming those he bribed.
The decision comes a day after the European Parliament waived the immunity of two further MEPs, Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino, paving the way for the investigators to call them in for questioning or even arrest them.
The prosecutor’s spokesperson couldn’t provide comment as to potential imminent action against the two.