ITUC Secretary (Arrested) and Bribery Scandal: “It is difficult to suspect an NGO like Fight Impunity”
From our correspondent
BRUSSELS – Two weeks weren’t enough Luca Visentini To completely overcome the shock of 48 hours of arrest for bribery Qatargate Passed, the judges say, by the NGO Fighting Impunity Antonio Panziri. We meet the secretary of the Ituc in the downtown bar.
How did you feel when the police came to your house?
“Doubt and confusion. I knew I had done nothing wrong and I didn’t understand what was happening to me and why.”
He must have learned of this from the arrest warrant.
“They made me read it very quickly. In that case, it was very difficult to understand everything, also because it was in French and I don’t speak that language. I realized that there was a reference to an international corruption network.”
First night in the dungeon?
“Terrible because I knew I was innocent. Luckily they let me keep a book with me. It served as a distraction.”
He was arrested on Friday the 9th, and the questioning of the judge on Saturday was postponed to the next day. What did she think when they took her back to her cell?
I was anguished and frustrated that I could not explain my innocence. The night was bad. I had a severe headache and they wouldn’t let me take the medicine. I was constantly thinking of my family and fellow trade unionists.
Today, the interrogation.
“It lasted about an hour. The questions were about the accusation of belonging to a criminal association, then there was corruption and money laundering. I objected to all of them and gave the judge all the information and explanations that you asked me to do. I immediately said that I only participated in public and free cultural activities on human rights “.
They accuse her of receiving two envelopes from Panziri totaling €50,000. Why did you give them to him?
“It was a donation from the Anti-Impunity Association which, as is usually the case, was used partly to pay for my campaign costs for the World Trade Union Congress, partly to support the participation of trade unions with limited economic resources at the conference.”
Doesn’t it seem strange that I don’t suspect he gave her some money?
“It sounded strange to me, but I had no doubts about an NGO that seemed to have a reversed reputation. I remember asking Panziri why he gave me the money, and his explanation was that the association raised funding from donors who work in countries with authoritarian regimes and so they cannot use banking channels because otherwise they will be identified.”
Later, I went to Qatar with him in early November. to do what?
“I was invited by the International Labor Organization of the United Nations and by the government who, as always happens in institutional visits of this kind, covered the cost of the trip. At the end of the visit, I was interviewed by an international news agency that explained that despite some important reforms, the situation of human and labor rights in Qatar is still far from satisfactory, and there is a need to keep pressure on the government. And on business, even after the World Cup is over. very awkward situation.
Investigations continue, with her accusation that she still believes that more than 50,000 euros went to her.
“It’s not like that.”
Do you know Giorgi, Kylie and Andrea Cozzolino who is associated with Panzeri?
“None of them.”
How did you feel when they released you?
“Relaxed and happy.”
Panziri and Georgi seem to have vindicated her.
“I’m glad the truth is emerging.”
Did you receive solidarity?
«From all over the world, from many colleagues and friends».
And from the union?
“I am on hold to allow Ituc to explain all the implications and impact of this matter. It is a path that I am involved in and I hope to be able to resume my work when everything is cleared up. I have dedicated my whole life to the union, and defending workers is my mission.”
Dec 23, 2022 (changed Dec 23, 2022 | 23:58)
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