Caviar-gate: “strong suspicion” of corruption in aid of Azerbaijan

The Commission for Investigating Corruption Allegations, targeting those MPs elected to or formerly elected to the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (“the PACE”), has established “a strong suspicion” regarding several such individuals. The announcement came in a communiqué by the PACE. The investigators “established that there was a strong suspicion that some current and former members of the PACE committed corruption activities in favour of Azerbaijan” in the so-called Caviar-gate affair, according to the PACE.

Several members or former members of the PACE are suspected of having been “bought” by the Azerbaijan authorities notably in exchange for their vote, in January 2013, against a report denouncing the situation of political prisoners within the former Soviet Republic. Some MPs are thought to have been offered caviar, carpets and nights in luxury hotels in Baku.

The President of PACE, Michele Nicoletti, said, on Sunday, during a press conference, “Those members of parliament involved have been asked to suspend their activity whilst a PACE committee examines their circumstances on a case by case basis.” Amongst those members of parliament attacked in the report feature, Eduard Lintner a former German MP for the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU, and an former MP of this group, a member of the PACE, Karin Strenz.

The investigative report was made public on Sunday evening and contains 200 pages. It was compiled by three experts, the former French anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, the Brit, Nicolas Bratza also the former President of the European Court of Human Rights, and the Swedish Lawyer, Elisabet Fura.

The report’s publication came on the eve of the opening of the spring session of the PACE, which brings together 324 members of parliament from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, including the 28 member states of the European Union.

With no legislative powers, the PACE sits for four weeks a year in Strasbourg, to debate both the protection of human rights and the fight against corruption.

The Brussels Times

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