Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino was arrested on Friday night in an investigation into alleged corruption in the European Parliament, according to media reports.
Italian police forces first tried to arrest Cozzolino at his residence but were unable to locate him there, Italian press service ANSA and news agency Reuters reported. Police from the Italian Financial Guard then confronted the lawmaker with a European arrest warrant after he was released from a clinic in Naples and took him to prison in Poggiorele.
The arrests came at the behest of Belgian authorities, who launched an operation on Friday morning detaining Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella. Both Cozzolino and Tarabella saw their immunity waived in a plenary session last Thursday, paving the way for Belgian investigators to detain them.
Belgian police launched new raids on Friday, linking both Cojolino and Tarabella.
Earlier on Friday, Belgian police searched Cozzolino’s home in Brussels and sealed off his office in the European Parliament, but did not search, a spokesman for Belgian prosecutors confirmed. In addition, a safe deposit box belonging to Tarabella at a bank in Liège was searched, as well as multiple offices in the Walloon town of Antisnes, where Tarabella is still mayor, prosecutors said in a press release.
According to the parliamentary report, possible violations of Belgian law by Tarabella and Cozzolino may include corruption, participation in a criminal organization and money laundering. However, in its communication on Friday, the prosecutor’s services only mentioned corruption and money laundering.
Late last week, a Belgian investigating judge released from prison one of the four main detainees in the case, Niccolò Figa-Talamanca – secretary-general of No Peace Without Justice, a non-governmental organization linked to the Katargate corruption scandal.
Three other suspects – former European Parliament vice president Eva Kylie, her partner Francesco Giorgi and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri – are still in prison. In January, Panzeri made a deal to cooperate with investigators.
Both Tarabella and Cozzolino deny any wrongdoing.
Camille Gies contributed reporting.