Morocco PM sues former French MEP for defamation after bribery claims
Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch has filed a defamation suit against a French former MEP over public accusations of alleged attempts to solicit votes for the EU-Morocco free trade agreement on fruit and vegetables.
"The Moroccan Prime Minister is extremely shocked by the baseless accusations made by José Bové," Oliver Baratelli, Akhannouch's lawyer, told France Info.
"It is a scandalous questioning of [the minister's] honour and his honesty."
On 16 December, Bové claimed in an interview with state radio station France Inter that he was targeted with bribes while rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Trade between 2009 and 2014.
In 2012, the EU and Morocco signed an agreement on trade liberalisation in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fisheries products.
Over the past decade, several European farmers' unions have claimed imported Moroccan goods are threatening domestic produce.
A European court also declared last year that EU-Morocco trade deals covering farm and fish products were invalid as they were agreed upon without the consent of the people of Western Sahara, which Rabat insists is an integral part of the kingdom but is also claimed as an autonomous state.
However, the trade deals remained constant, awaiting the court of appeal's decision.
José’s comments come amid an ongoing political scandal rocking the European parliament.
Several European politicians and their families are alleged to have been accomplices in corruption, money laundering, and organised crime involving the states of Morocco and Qatar in exchange for influence at the European Parliament.
Qatar has categorically denied the allegations, meanwhile, Morocco has yet to issue an official statement on the scandal.
Since the start of the investigation in June, law enforcement authorities in Belgium, Italy, and Greece have seized around $1.6 million in cash, confiscated dozens of computers and mobile phones, and charged four individuals over the alleged offences.