The Brussels Court of Appeal will examine on 7 March the request for recusal filed by MEP Marc Tarabella (S&D) against presiding judge Michel Claise, Belga News Agency reports.
Tarabella was arrested two weeks ago by the Belgian authorities in connection with the Qatargate corruption scandal, just days after his immunity was formally suspended by the European Parliament.
Among other alleged crimes, the 59-year-old has been accused by Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri of accepting bribes of up to €140,000 to support pro-Qatari policies. Tarabella denies any involvement in the scandal.
Tarabella's defence lawyer Maxim Töller told reporters last week that his client was compelled to make the recusal request after the arrest warrant issued by Claise appeared to implicitly accept certain arguments made by the prosecution.
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"The judge clearly lets his opinion on the guilt of Tarabella be heard," Töller explained. "[He] clearly seems to take for granted the disputed facts upon which the investigation he is leading is based."
"A judge should maintain absolute impartiality, holding the balance of equal justice between all the parties, for the sole purpose of seeking the truth. Obviously, this is no longer the case: that there are heavy suspicions of bias in the head of the investigating judge, making him unfit to carry out his mission," Töller added.