This is how Panzeri and his men worked for Qatar Schengen Free Visa – Ilfattoquotidiano

From left, Antonio Panzeri, Francesco Giorgi, Eva Kaili, Niccolò Figà-Talamanca and Abderrahim Atmoun

The former Pd MEP and his collaborators, according to Belgian investigators, were in constant contact to influence the dossiers they cared about and for which they are accused of having received funding from Qatar and Morocco.¬†The vote in the Libe commission on December 1 ended under investigation.¬†The wiretap: “We need to resume the Pisapia amendment…”.¬†The amendments by the former mayor of Milan and by Bartolo get in the way of the objectives of the pro-Doha group.¬†As well as those of the Spaniards, strengthened by the support of L√≥pez Aguilar, former minister of Zapatero

They try in every possible way: ” First kindly , then with the hard way”. And what at first seems like a ‚Äúlosing battle‚ÄĚ ends the way they planned it to go. Despite a deputy who, instead of helping them, gets in the way. But ‚Äúwe have offered an amendment to stop those people ‚ÄĚ. Pier Antonio Panzeri and his, according to the reconstructions of Belgian investigators, are very active in Parliamentaround their dossiers. And their dossiers are those which, according to the prosecution, are dear to Morocco but also to Qatar . It is for this reason that the former MEP of the Pdended up under arrest on corruption charges. Among the accusations is precisely that of having worked in favor of the Emirate of Doha in exchange for money. A dispute, that of the federal prosecutor of Brussels, also supported by some telephone interceptions. Conversations that demonstrate how there was constant coordination between Panzeri and his group of collaborators. Even after the end of his mandate as a parliamentarian. But let’s go in order.

VISAS FOR DOHA ‚ÄstAmong the issues that have come to the attention of the investigators coordinated by the investigating judge¬†Michel Claise¬†there is, for example, also the delicate question of the¬†liberalization of visas¬†for some¬†non- European¬†countries , includingQatar¬†.¬†In that case, the Spanish Socialists¬†together with their Italian colleagues¬†Giuliano Pisapia¬†and¬†Pietro Bartolo¬†stand in the way of Panzeri’s objectives: they want to extend the proposal toEcuadorand link the exemption to respect for human rights.¬†A waste of time for the former MEP and for him, who do everything to get the result as soon as possible.¬†Last December 1st the Commission for¬†civil liberties¬†, justice and internal affairs (¬†LIBE¬†) approved the visa exemption proposal:¬†Panzeri and his team rejoiced¬†.¬†Too soon, however: the vote of the¬†Plenary¬†would have been needed for the definitive go-ahead .¬†A vote that will never take place: the¬†Qatargate¬†scandal will block everything.

THE DOSSIER¬†– The investigators reconstruct the movements of the weeks preceding that vote.¬†And they reveal a network of contacts and conversations to arrive at a favorable result for¬†Doha¬†.¬†To better understand the dynamics we have to go back, to the period between October and¬†November 2022 : within the¬†Libe¬†commissionwe discuss and do it animatedly.¬†First of all, the Spanish deputies are working to extend the issue to¬†Ecuador¬†: the Iberian representatives are not giving up, strengthened by the support of President¬†Juan Fernando L√≥pez Aguilar, former Minister of Justice in¬†the Zapatero government¬†and one of the heavyweights ofthe European Socialist Party.¬†The move is not at all appreciated by the group of parliamentarians and assistants close to¬†Antonio Panzeri¬†, who for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office was the head of the¬†“criminal organization”¬†within the EU Parliament.¬†The addition of new amendments, in fact, risks slowing down the whole process.

PANZERI’S NERVOUSNESS ON THE PHONE¬†‚Äď This is why, according to investigators, Panzeri and his group of collaborators were very nervous in those days.¬†This can be understood on October 13, when the former trade unionist is intercepted on the phone.¬†It was just after 6.30 pm and he spoke with¬†Giuseppe Meroni¬†, then assistant to the MEP¬†Marc Tarabella¬†, and former collaborator of Bartolo, but also of Panzeri.¬†There are now just a few days left before the deadline for presenting¬†amendments¬†to¬†the European Commission ‘s proposal expiresamendment of the “Regulation with the list of third countries whose citizens must be in possession of a visa”.¬†Meroni reports to Panzeri that “a certain person will present amendments”, including “those who obey” the socialists¬†Lopez-Aguilar¬†and¬†Javier Moreno S√°nchez¬†.¬†And this, explains Meroni, who had his office searched as part of the investigation, does not make him happy at all.¬†He failed to¬†“convince the people in question”¬†not to present certain amendments.¬†This risks hindering the group’s goals.¬†“It’s a losing battle”Meroni says.¬†The two then take it out on a parliamentarian who has not been convinced: “he says he is a deputy, but he is not a deputy in anything, in the sense that he does not have any characteristics of a deputy, it is useless for us to tell .¬†And¬†there was no possible strategy to convince him¬†.¬†In the sense that first it was done¬†kindly¬†, then with the hard way, but it was useless ‚ÄĚ.¬†While, he says, Lopez Aguilar behaved differently, who “sent the¬†written amendments from the government of Ecuador¬†“.¬†At that point it is Panzeri who tries to reassure the assistant: ‚Äú¬†We have offered an amendment to stop those people¬†, therefore‚Ķ‚ÄĚ.¬†Then Meroni, the investigators write again, ‚Äú¬†he is calmer‚ÄĚ because the former MEP’s strategy is still standing.

THE OBSTACLES OF PISAPIA AND BARTOLO¬†‚Äď But who are the MEPs who are hindering Panzeri?¬†The former trade unionist is always very careful when it comes to talking on the phone, often avoiding pronouncing precise names and surnames.¬†However, it is enough to look at the proposals published on 18 October last on the website of the European Parliament to hypothesize which amendments are indicted.¬†Thus it turns out that¬†Bartoloand¬†Pisapia¬†, the former together with their Spanish colleagues while the latter independently, have put forward twophotocopied amendment proposalswhich state that “the Commission should regularly monitor and report to the European Parliament on the situation of¬†human rights in the beneficiary third countriesof the visa waiver and should suspend the visa waiver in case of¬†violations¬†in the country concerned.¬†This provision should also apply to third countries whose nationals are already exempt from the visa requirement‚ÄĚ.¬†A crucial point for those who have¬†Qatar¬†‘s interests at heart , given that the Gulf emirate is on the list of countries for which visa exemption is being requested, together with¬†Oman¬†,¬†Kuwait¬†and, on a proposal from the Spaniards,¬†Ecuador¬†.¬†_

GIORGI’S INTERVENTION¬†‚Äď But in the papers of the investigators that reveal the background to those amendments there are also other men close to Panzeri.¬†For example, there is also his former assistant¬†Francesco Giorgi¬†.¬†The investigators observe that “Giorgi continues to inform Panzeri of the state of certain precise dossiers”.¬†It is also for this reason that the 35-year-old from Abbiategrasso ended up under arrest together with his former boss on 9 December last.¬†The investigators intercepted the two on 8 November, at 9.38 am: during the phone call, Panzeri reported a meeting he had just had with Meroni.¬†At the meeting, he says, “even¬†the two runaways from home”¬†were present and the former MEP explained the next steps to them: namely that “¬†we need to resume the amendmentPisapia¬†..‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúleaving things like this in Ecuador because they’re fine like this‚ÄĚ.¬†As if to say that the important thing is to move forward.

THE “GHOST VOTE” IN THE COMMISSION ‚Äď Less than a month later, on December 1, the Libe commission meets and approves the visa proposal for Qatar as well. Panzeri’s team gets what it has been working for for weeks: it is the session in which the“ghost vote” of Eva Kaili appears , who was not part of that parliamentary body. The now former vice president of the Eurochamber has made a personal effort on this issue, so much so that he flew to Doha to hold discussions with the Qatari leaders and publicly extol theemirate’s reforms in terms of human rights. The session is also the one followed personally by Giorgi, Kaili’s companion, who, after approval, made himself known foran exultation and a “high five” with the S&D political adviser for foreign affairs, Eldar Mamedov , suspended on Wednesday by the same socialist group which also reported him to the police . That proposal should then have arrived in the plenary session , as well as the amendments by the Spaniards on Ecuador, by Pisapia and by Bartolo: the outbreak of Qatargate, however, blocked everything.

THE SOCIALISTS AND THE DEM DENY OR DO NOT REMEMBER¬†‚Äď The staff of Bartolo and Pisapia, consulted¬†,¬†did not report any kind of pressure¬†during the discussion in the Libe commission.¬†The two protagonists, however, preferred not to make statements.¬†Lopez-Aguilar¬†, on the other hand, also told that he ‚Äúdid not notice anyparticular interference¬†or pressure among the members of the Libe commission.¬†We tabled those amendments for¬†purely political reasons, because we think they are right, but we also expect other representatives or political groups not to think like us”.¬†In short, no one noticed those attempts to push one’s line ”¬†first gently, then with strong manners¬†“.¬†Yet it happened.

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