A shocking revelation has surfaced, suggesting that corrupt politicians conspired to block the nomination of prominent anti-slavery activist, Biram Dah Abeid, for the esteemed Sakharov Prize, the European Union's pinnacle human rights award. The unfolding controversy is set against the backdrop of the Qatargate cash-for-influence scandal, with former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and his ex-aide Francesco Giorgi at the center of the storm.
Details unearthed from a leaked document expose a purported influence campaign led by Panzeri and Giorgi, intentionally obstructing Abeid's progression in the Sakharov Prize nominations. Both figures currently face preliminary charges in the expansive Qatargate scandal, a corruption debacle that has sent shockwaves through EU institutions.
A closer examination of leaked police files reveals a deliberate exclusion of Abeid from the shortlist of candidates put forth by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group of MEPs. Panzeri and Giorgi are alleged to have wielded their influence in the selection process, with September 9, 2020, identified as the critical date when Abeid's name was seemingly expunged from consideration, coinciding with the announcement of the S&D group's final shortlist.
Expressing profound shock and disappointment, Abeid voiced his concerns, stating, "The image of the Sakharov Prize has taken a very hard hit," and added, "Now we all know that the Sakharov Prize can be subjected to bargaining between powerful players who can influence how it is awarded."
Abeid, founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, shared poignant recollections of positive interactions with Panzeri, who had previously conveyed a robust humanitarian spirit aligned with European Union values. In light of the allegations, Abeid now questions whether corrupt influences, possibly financial incentives, played a role in manipulating the award process.
Despite being shortlisted in 2018, Abeid faced disappointment in 2020 as the Sakharov Prize ultimately went to Belarus's democratic opposition. While insiders suggest Abeid wasn't a frontrunner that year, he maintains that, as part of a broader resistance and dissidence movement, he held a legitimate claim to the prize.
Drawing poignant parallels between his experiences in Mauritania, where authorities allegedly obstructed his victories in presidential elections, and the actions of Panzeri and Giorgi, Abeid accused them of impeding his progress. He emphatically stated that, despite representing the majority suffering from slavery in Mauritania, obstacles persist. Undeterred, Abeid has declared his intent to run for the presidency again in 2024.
The controversial duo, Panzeri and Giorgi, implicated in a contentious deal with Mauritania, allegedly received €100,000 each between 2019 and 2022. While Panzeri admitted to receiving funds, Giorgi vehemently disputes the amount, asserting he received €1,800 monthly as rent for a subletted flat. Police documents expose that the deal with Mauritania originated in 2018, with the then-president proposing their assistance to ensure the EU refrained from criticizing Mauritania.
In response to the allegations, the S&D group issued a cautious statement, asserting, "We do not comment on the ongoing judicial investigation, other than to say that we are willing to fully cooperate with the judicial authorities. Our internal inquiry did not bring to light any facts or cases that should have been brought to the attention of the investigation."
As legal representatives for Giorgi and Panzeri, along with the government of Mauritania, remain conspicuously silent, the evolving scandal casts a dark shadow over the integrity of the Sakharov Prize. The revelation raises profound questions about the susceptibility of human rights recognitions within the European Union to the corrosive influence of corruption, prompting a reevaluation of the mechanisms safeguarding the integrity of prestigious awards.
By fLEXI tEAM