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Newsline: EU top diplomat to visit Morocco despite graft scandal

The EU defended a trip by its top diplomat to Morocco, which has been linked, along with Qatar, to a graft scandal unrolling at the European Parliament. As “there is no proof” of wrongdoing at this stage, it is right the trip by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday and Friday should go ahead, a spokesman for Borrell said. “No one has officially said from the judicial point of view that Morocco as a country is guilty, and Morocco should be avoided in international contact,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano. (https://news.yahoo.com/borrell-visit-morocco-clouded-eu-133642277.html) The scandal erupted last month when Belgian police raided several addresses used by some lawmakers and aides in the European Parliament, lobbyists and NGO heads. The searches turned up 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in cash, suspected to be pay-offs as part of efforts to influence decisions in the European Parliament. Four suspects are in custody, including a Greek MEP, Eva Kaili. She was not able to excercise her parliamentary immunity because a judge determined she had been caught red-handed. Kaili, who was stripped of her position as one of the parliament’s 14 vice presidents after her arrest, insists she is innocent. Through her lawyer she has expressed ignorance about 150,000 euros in cash found in her Belgian residence. Her Italian boyfriend, Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary aide, has reportedly made a confession to Belgian prosecutors, which also alleges Moroccan involvement. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing in the case, which is still being investigated by Belgian authorities.

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