Scandal at European Parliament: Figa-Talamanca appeals against pre-trial detention

Scandal at European Parliament: Figa-Talamanca appeals against pre-trial detention
Credit: Olivier Hoslet / Belga

Niccolò Figa-Talamanca — the former head of a leading Brussels-based NGO and one of the central figures implicated in the Qatargate corruption scandal — has appealed against a Belgian court's decision to keep him in pre-trial detention, Belga News Agency has reported.

On Thursday, the Pre-trial Chamber of the Court of First Instance ruled that both Figa-Talamanca and fellow Italian and former parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi would remain in police custody, following allegations of their involvement in a "criminal organisation, corruption, and money laundering".

Figa-Talamanca formerly served as the Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice, a human rights advocacy group, but stepped aside shortly after the scandal erupted onto the European political scene.

Both Figa-Talamanca and Giorgi were arrested on 9 December, together with Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri (Giorgi's former boss) and current Greek MEP Eva Kaili (Giorgi's current partner). They are all believed to have solicited illicit funds from the Qatari and Moroccan Governments in exchange for supporting pro-Qatari and pro-Moroccan policies.

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Both Panzeri and Giorgi have confessed to these allegations.

In a curious twist, the Belgian authorities had originally granted Figa-Talamanca's pre-trial release on 14 December on condition that he wear an electronic monitor.

However, the decision was abruptly reversed less than two weeks later, following an appeal by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office. It is currently unknown what the reason for the reversal was.

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