Cardinal in Vatican civil court: defence on the attack


Ten people, including a cardinal, are facing serious charges in a Vatican civil court.

The Vatican’s trial against Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine other individuals, along with three corporate entities, alleges extortion, fraud and embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of office.

This is the first time a cardinal has been brought to trial by a civil court on penal charges in the Vatican.

Earlier in the year, Pope Francis issued a decree enabling cardinals and bishops to stand trial before a Vatican civil tribunal. Until then, they had immunity.

Most of this trial’s charges stem from a Vatican investigation into how the Vatican Secretariat of State used $200 million to finance a property development project in London’s expensive Chelsea district, incurring millions in debt.

The Secretariat’s allegedly criminal asset management included using donations from the “Peter’s Pence” annual collection.

However, for much of the day’s proceedings, it was not Becciu or any of his co-defendants who seemed to be on trial.

Rather, in turn, defence attorneys did their best to portray the Vatican’s judicial authority as antiquated and authoritarian.

Lawyers for the lay defendants who chose not to attend the day’s session presented a wide array of objections to the trial, mainly lamenting the lack of documentation given to the defence before it began.

Italian broker, Raffaele Mincione was not present at the Vatican civil court trial as he has taken a case against the Vatican in London High Court.

His lawyers said Mincione does not recognize the Vatican as the proper place for his trial.

It was through Mincione that the Secretariat invested in his Athena Capital Fund to purchase his Chelsea property.

The second Italian broker, Gianluigi Torzi, could not attend because he is under house arrest in London.

Torzi faces extradition to Italy and risks arrest if he enters the country.

Also not present was Cecilia Marogna, who at one point, and on behalf of Becciu, carried out intelligence work to help liberate kidnapped missionaries.

Marogna is charged with embezzlement after a large portion of the 500,000 Euros she was paid was spent on luxury goods.

This left Becciu and Monsignor Mauro Carlino, his former personal secretary, as the only two defendants present during Tuesday’s hearing.

At the end of the day’s proceedings, Becciu reiterated his innocence to journalists.

“I have always been obedient to the pope”.

“He has entrusted me with many missions in my life, he wanted me to come to trial and I am coming to trial.

“I am serene, my conscience is clear, I have the confidence that the judges will see the facts correctly and my great hope is certainty that they will recognize my innocence.”

As a counter, Becciu says he has ordered his lawyers to file two lawsuits for defamation.

The first is against Msgr Alberto Perlasca, the Secretariat of State’s former administrative office chief, who was an initial suspect back in 2020 and the other against and Francesca Chaouqui.

Chaouqui was found guilty in 2016 of leaking confidential documents about Vatican finances. She was given a 10-month suspended sentence.

The Trial was adjourned until October 5.


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