Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella (S&D) — who was arrested on Friday by the Belgian authorities in connection with the Qatargate corruption scandal — has demanded that the judge presiding over his case recuse himself, Belga News Agency reports.
According to Tarabella's defence lawyer Maxim Töller, his client was compelled to make this request after the arrest warrant issued by investigating judge Michel Claise appeared to implicitly accept certain arguments made by the prosecution.
"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."
Töller added: "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."
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Tarabella was accused last month by Italian former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri — one of the figures at the very centre of the Qatargate scandal — of accepting bribes of up to €140,000 to support pro-Qatari policies.
Töller claims that the evidence proffered by the prosecution thus far "does not reveal any movement of suspicious funds" in his client's bank accounts.