Pier Antonio Panzeri, the alleged mastermind of the Qatargate scandal, is expected to give the Belgian justice new names of EU lawmakers from Germany, France and Italy, the lawyer of jailed Greek MEP Eva Kaili said on Monday.
“Messages and news are coming that he will give MEPs from Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium. Regarding people from Greece, I cannot rule out anything, especially because it’s a pre-election period”, lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos told Kontra TV channel in an interview.
Panzeri has made a deal with the Belgian justice to speak out and describe the scandal’s details in exchange for a softer sentence. On Tuesday, Panzeri will testify for the first time after the deal with Belgian authorities was sealed.
But for Dimitrakopoulos, Panzeri made a high-risk move. “They told him that he will stay in jail for one year, but he will give them the names that they want”, he said, hinting that Panzeri is politically manipulated.
“Now he is completely untrustworthy, and all he cares about is saving his wife and daughter, and whatever they give him, he will sign,” the Greek lawyer added.
Dimitrakopoulos also projected that the deal Panzeri made with the Belgian authorities would “collapse” at some point as “there will be strong reactions from the people that Panzeri will accuse”.
He said two Belgian MEPs are already against him and they are expected to reveal things against Panzeri, which himself has so far hidden. “So, the deal will collapse in this case”, he said.
A source close to the matter told EURACTIV that according to the deal, Panzeri must tell the whole truth to Belgian justice authorities and hide nothing. If he doesn’t, he not only “breaks the deal” but will also be accused of “perverting the course of justice”.
Why silence over Saudi Arabia?
Referring to Eva Kaili’s speech at the European Parliament, where she praised Qatar for the progress in labour rights, Dimitrakopoulos said there had been a misunderstanding.
Kaili had said Qatar is a “frontrunner in labour rights”.
“Today’s World Cup proves how sports diplomacy can achieve a historical transformation of a country with reforms that inspired the Arab world. ILO said Qatar is a frontrunner in labour rights,” she said.
According to Dimitrakopoulos, Kaili just put a quote from ILO in her speech and compared the progress on labour rights in Qatar with other Gulf countries.
“She just emphasised the progress of Qatar on labour rights compared to Kuwait […] and some MEPs’ favourite country… Saudi Arabia”.
“Do you know what’s happening with labour rights in Saudi Arabia? Has any MEP, who now crucify Kaili, come out and compared Saudi Arabia with Qatar? The interests and lobbies are huge”, Dimitrakopoulos concluded.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)