Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena, whose Brussels home was searched last July as part of the European parliament “Qatargate” bribery scandal, was questioned by investigators Friday (9 February), according to her lawyer.
Protected by her parliamentary immunity, Arena cannot face an arrest warrant at this stage.
Arena is one of a group of political figures suspected of accepting cash in return for helping Qatar and Morocco at the parliament. Arena and the named countries have strongly denied involvement.
More than a year since the scandal broke, the socialist politician was interviewed for the first time, her lawyer Michele Hirsch told AFP.
“She responded in length to all the questions put to her, explaining her work in the European parliament, her commitments and achievements for human rights”, she said.
One of the six searches in July at her home and among her entourage led to the discovery of €280,000 in cash at the home of her son, who lives next door, according to a source close to the case.
But the cash “has nothing to do with Qatargate”, she said in an interview with Belgian dailies Le Soir and La Libre Belgique. “I have nothing to do with the affair”, the 57-year-old said.
The scandal broke on 9 December 2022, when police raids in Brussels uncovered €1.5 million in cash at the homes of Greek MEP Eva Kaili and former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri.
They are among seven people charged so far. Two other MEPs, Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella, have also been charged as part of the Belgian prosecution probe.
Arena’s name was cited in the investigation because she is known as an associate of Panzeri.