HomeEuropeQatargate: former MEP’s daughter fights extradition to Belgium on human rights grounds

Qatargate: former MEP’s daughter fights extradition to Belgium on human rights grounds

The daughter of an Italian former MEP at the center of corruption allegations involving Qatar and Morocco has provisionally avoided extradition to Belgium after claiming that Belgian prisons are too overcrowded. 

Belgian investigators have accused Silvia Panzeri, a 38-year-old lawyer practising in Milan, of money laundering, corruption and criminal association as part of the so-called Qatargate scandal engulfing the European Parliament. She was “fully aware” of the activities of her father, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Socialist MEP, and head of the NGO Fight Impunity, the prosecutor wrote in an arrest warrant seen by POLITICO.

Silvia Panzeri was arrested a week ago in Bergamo, northern Italy, at the request of Belgian prosecutors, as was her mother Maria Dolores Colleoni, but was subsequently released to house arrest. Her father is in jail in Belgium. The whole family deny any wrong-doing.

The judges decided to accept Panzeri’s request to have checks made on conditions in Belgian prisons. Her lawyer Nicola Colli told POLITICO: “We raised a preliminary defense and asked for an assessment on the situation in prisons in Belgium. According to Council of Europe documents, which we presented to the court, there is a serious overcrowding problem which would constitute a violation of my client’s human rights. The court accepted our request to have the Ministry of Justice verify the situation.”

The court was adjourned until January 3 when judges will decide, on the basis of the information on Belgian prisons, whether she can be extradited.

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