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Politics Monitor

Qatargate Judge Claise Stays In Investigation

Investigating judge Michel Claise refuses to withdraw from the investigation into suspicions of corruption within the European Parliament, the federal prosecutor’s office said on Monday, confirming information from the newspaper Le Soir.

Last week, the defense of MEP Marc Tarabella filed a motion to disqualify the investigating judge in charge of the investigation. According to Me Maxim Töller, his client’s presumption of innocence has been flouted on several occasions. The lawyer believes that the investigating judge is not carrying out his investigations for and against him. An element of the motivation of the arrest warrant is problematic, according to Mr. Töller, because Judge Claise “seems clearly to take for granted the facts disputed [by Marc Tarabellla] and on which the investigation he is directing relates”.

Judge Claise Sees no Reason to Step Aside

As Judge Claise sees no reason to step aside, the Court of Appeal will have to rule on the motion for recusal. Subsequently, this decision is still likely to be challenged via an appeal in cassation.

The Belgian MEP was placed under arrest warrant after his hearing by the investigating judge. On Thursday, the Brussels council chamber extended the socialist’s detention by one month.

“Any trace of violation of the presumption of innocence must disappear”
Me Maxim Töller, lawyer for Marc Tarabella, told the Belga agency on Monday that he will await the decision of the Brussels Court of Appeal on his request for the recusal of the examining magistrate Michel Claise. “It is important to us that any trace of violation of the presumption of innocence disappears from the file”, commented the lawyer.

Me Maxim Töller suspects the examining magistrate Michel Claise of having violated the presumption of innocence of his client in the investigation into alleged acts of corruption within the European Parliament. He requested the judge’s recusal on Thursday. Within the legal period of 48 hours, Judge Claise communicated to the federal prosecutor’s office his decision not to withdraw from the investigation. This means that it is now the Brussels Court of Appeal that will have to rule on the matter within the next 8 days.

“The position of the investigating judge was expected, but we have not yet taken note of this decision and its motivation, since it is communicated only to the federal prosecutor’s office. The investigating judge has the right to argue. As he has not withdrawn, the file automatically goes to the Court of Appeal. Then, we will possibly have a procedure before the Court of Cassation”, indicates Me Töller.

Counsel for Marc Tarabella would like to see any element that would indicate a violation of his client’s presumption of innocence removed from the file.

This article is originally published on lavenir.net

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