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European Parliament lifts immunity of 2 lawmakers in graft probe

Brussels, Feb 3 (IANS) The European Parliament (EP) voted to waive the immunity of two lawmakers following a request from Belgian judicial authorities investigating a major corruption scandal rocking the European Union (EU) assembly.

The EP said on Thursday that its members had backed the decision to waive the immunities of Italian Member of Parliament (MEP) Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella, Xinhua news agency reported.

By a show of hands, MEPs endorsed the proposal adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Once the decision is formally communicated to both MEPs and the requesting authorities, the procedure to strip the two members of their parliamentary immunity would have been completed.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola started the procedure on January 16 after receiving requests from the competent authorities in Belgium as part of an inquiry by the Belgian Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Cozzolino and Tarabella have denied wrongdoing and self-suspended their membership of Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group.

Eva Kaili, who was stripped of her role as EP vice president, has already been charged over the alleged bribery scandal. Prosecutors accuse the Greek Socialist MEP of corruption, membership in a criminal organization and money laundering.