‘vatileaks 2’ Trial Due to Reconvene
By Paddy Agnew
March 12, 2016
|Lay consultant Francesca Chaouqui and Spanish monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda: pair are among the five on trial. Photograph: Umberto Pizzi/AFP/Getty Images|
The potentially embarrassing, so-called Vatileaks 2 trial is scheduled to reconvene in the Vatican on Saturday morning.
This is the Vatican City state trial in which five people stand accused of involvement in a criminal conspiracy which saw them “illegally procuring and successively revealing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See . . .”.
All five people indicted – Spanish monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, his Italian lay assistant Nicola Maio, lay consultant Francesca Chaouqui and journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi – have been charged under section IX of the Vatican’s “crimes against the security of the state” legislation.
This legislation was strengthened by Pope Francis in the wake of the 2012 “Vatileaks 1” case which saw Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, convicted and eventually pardoned for having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.
If found guilty, the defendants in Vatileaks 2 could face an eight-year prison sentence.
This morning’s session is likely to be entirely procedural since it will be a behind- closed-doors hearing at which the court must decide on the admissability of new computer evidence. The trial, however, is due to hold a further two hearings on Monday and Tuesday of next week when witnesses are due to take the stand.
At the centre of this trial are Msgr Vallejo (54) and Ms Chaoqui (33), two people reportedly close to the influential lay movement Opus Dei.
In the summer of 2013, Msgr Vallejo and Ms Chaoqui were appointed by Pope Francis to the Cosea Commission, a body established by the pope to rationalise the “economic-administrative” structure of the Holy See.
The prosecution alleges that the two defendants passed confidential Cosea information to the two journalists, information which later appeared in books published by both men last autumn – Merchants in the Temple by Mr Nuzzi and Greed by Mr Fittipaldi. Ironically, both books outline not only the mismanagement of the Holy See’s finances but also the resistance of elements in the Roman Curia to the ongoing reform process instigated by Pope Francis.
Much of the information in both books, particularly in relation to the Vatican bank IOR and to the Vatican’s once far- from-transparent finances, was not new. Much of it had already appeared in print.
Both books, however, appear to reflect an embarrassing Holy See level of resistance to Pope Francis.