Anti-mafia judge to lead Vatican’s criminal tribunal

Pope Francis has chosen one of Italy’s leading anti-mafia prosecutors as president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal.

Giuseppe Pignatone’s appointment came two days after Vatican police raided the Apostolic Palace and seized documents and computers from the secretariat of state.

The raid included searches of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), which is tasked with flagging possible money laundering and other suspicious financial transactions.

The Vatican press office had little to say about the raids.

It only said they were based on a report from the Vatican bank and auditor general’s office about past financial operations.

Pignatone’s appointment was announced just as a new scandal erupted over alleged financial wrongdoing in the heart of the Holy See.

The 70-year old prosecutor has spent 45 years of his life in the Italian judiciary fighting the mafia.

As Sicily’s deputy prosecutor, Pignatone coordinated the investigation which, in 2006, led to the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano, who was “head of all the leaders” of the Sicilian mafia.

In 2008 as the prosecutor of the Republic of Reggio Calabria. Pignatone he attacked the Calabria-based crime group Ndrangheta.

Threats against him at that time included a rocket launcher being found pointing directly at the window of his office.

In 2012, the High Council of the Judiciary unanimously appointed him Prosecutor of the Republic of Rome.

In this capacity, he coordinated the Capital Mafia investigation, which uncovered the links between senior leaders of the Municipality of Rome and the Mafia.

He also led investigations into political corruption and organized crime as well as Italy’s probe into the suspicious death in Egypt of an Italian graduate student.

Pignatone retired in May as chief prosecutor in Rome.

In his new role at the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, he will lead all investigations into all crimes that occur on Vatican territory or involving Vatican diplomats.

The penal code is based on the Italian criminal code with elements of canon law.

One of the tribunal’s most high-profile cases in recent years have involved the two “Vatileaks” scandals of leaked Holy See documents.

Another involved prosecuting the former president of the Vatican’s children’s hospital over financing for a cardinal’s apartment renovations.

Yet another involved convicting a Vatican diplomat on child pornography possession charges.

More recently, Vatican prosecutors have recommended that two priests from the Vatican’s youth seminary be prosecuted in a sexual abuse case involving young seminarians.

Pignatone’s appointment, although planned for some time, was reportedly swiftly accelerated by the Pope.

The current investigations into the Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority of the Holy See will be one of the first cases Pignatone will have to deal with.


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