One of the leading European politicians at the centre of the Qatargate corruption scandal has agreed to collaborate with the Belgian authorities in exchange for a reduced prison sentence, Le Soir has reported.
On Tuesday, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office announced that Pier Antonio Panzeri — a former Italian MEP who is suspected of accepting illicit funds from the Qatari and Moroccan Governments in exchange for supporting pro-Qatari and pro-Moroccan policies — had signed a so-called "repentance agreement" with the Belgian authorities.
In a press release, the Prosecutor's Office stated that Panzeri had thereby undertaken "a commitment to make substantial, revealing, sincere and complete statements concerning the participation of third parties [in the scandal] and, if necessary, his own participation."
It also noted that, as compensation, Panzeri will incur a "limited sentence", which "will include jail time, a fine and the confiscation of all acquired property benefits, currently estimated at one million euros."
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Belga News Agency has since cited "judicial sources" who claim that Panzeri will receive a five-year prison sentence, of which four years will be deferred and one will be effective.
The recent announcement follows Panzeri's decision earlier on Tuesday to withdraw his appeal against the Belgian judicial authorities' decision to keep him in pre-trial detention following his arrest on 9 December last year. It also follows reports last month that Panzeri had made a "partial confession of the facts" to investigating judge Michel Claise, although it is not yet known what specific allegations the former MEP confessed to.
In addition to Panzeri, Qatargate has led to charges being brought against three other people, including Panzeri's former parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi and the latter's partner, current Greek MEP Eva Kaili.
Leaked testimony has since revealed that both Kaili and Giorgi have confirmed Panzeri's involvement in the scandal to the Belgian authorities.