Belgian MEP implicated in EU Parliament corruption scandal breaks silence following release
One of the MEPs implicated in the European Parliament's cash-for-influence scandal has described his ordeal as "not easy", saying he does not deserve what has happened.
Marc Tarabella, a Belgian politician held a press conference on Wednesday, where he explained in tears the difficulties he has faced as his life as a European lawmaker fell apart.
"I see my face on the front page of the JT (Belgian TV) every night. My name is everywhere, smeared, the name of my family, my mother, my wife, my daughter and my son, who have never deserved this either," he told reporters.
The socialist MEP was arrested in February and released from prison last month, although he was placed under electronic monitoring which has since been lifted. He is now awaiting trial.
It is a status he has taken advantage of to explain his version of events: from the unexpected searches at his home to his days in jail.
"A large number of police officers arrived at the house, accompanied by the judge and my (European Parliament) President Roberta Metsola, for a search. I was stunned," he said during a press conference.
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"My wife and son were shocked. The policemen were very kind. They explained to me that they were looking for money. I don't understand what money. I have nothing to reproach myself for. Why do I find myself with a dozen policemen, a judge and the President of the Parliament and officers?"
He also said he felt betrayed by a man he considered a friend, Pier-Antonio Panzeri, the accused former MEP, who decided to cooperate with the police.
"All this on the sole basis of the words of a man who would later admit to being the head of a criminal organisation and who threw my name out to avoid being eaten," Tarabella said.
"I spent several months in prison. Prison is not easy for a guilty person, but even worse for an innocent person."
According to his lawyer Maxim Töller, the Belgian MEP will have to respond to any call from the police, not leave the territory without prior agreement and avoid contacting the other people charged in the case.
All six defendants have been released from jail and are awaiting trial.